What is the historical significance of the decision in the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka case?
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The monumental 1954 Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, gave civil rights activists the precedent they needed to mount a campaign to integrate many areas of American society. The May 17, 1954, Supreme Court decision unanimously declared that "separate but equal" is unconstitutional. Furthermore, the court ruling established that even if the schools' facilities, educators and materials were equal, segregation was still unconstitutional because "separation itself was inherently unequal and a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment." Moreover, Brown v. Board of Education was not based on the "gross inequalities in facilities and other tangible factors that characterized previous desegregation cases." (civilrights.org)
In 1896 the Plessy v. Ferguson case established a legal precedent that required separate school facilities for black and white children, but the quality of the education provided must be equal. Brown v. Board of Education overturned Plessy v. Ferguson. (americanhistory.about.com)
The decision was the "catalyst for the modern civil rights movement" that sparked nationwide reform and served as a legal precedent that challenged segregation in all areas of society. (civilrights.org) The idea for the case originated with Charles H. Houston who was the Dean of the Howard Law School in the 1930s. The case took two decades to come to fruition and was executed by Houston's pupil, Thurgood Marshall. Marshall recruited the nation's best lawyers, legal scholars, historians, social scientists and psychologists to build the case. In actuality Brown v. Board of ...
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