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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Part IV, Post Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education, Apartheid Continued

It was not until the 1954 that the Supreme Court overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson 1896 decision and the "separate but equal" doctrine, yet government mandated apartheid continued in many states.

Brown v. Board of Education

In Brown v. Bd. of Educ., 347 U.S. 483, decided May 17, 1954, the US Supreme Court found that segregation by race had no place in public education. Segregation was a denial of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and that  Separate educational facilities were inherently unequal.  It took 86 years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, for the US Supreme Court to overturn the Plessy v. Ferguson decision. You may read about the history of apartheid and civil rights leading up to the US Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education in the Oct. 6th and Oct. 13th articles.

In its consolidated opinion, the Court reviewed four state cases in which Black children sought admission to the public schools of their community on a non-segregated basis. In each case , the the black children had been denied admission to schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to race. They alleged this segregation  by race  deprived the minors of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment.

The children contended that the public schools serving whites and those serving minorities and blacks were not in fact equal and could not be made equal, thereby denying the black children of equal protection of the law. The common legal question among the cases was whether Plessy v, Ferguson  should be held inapplicable to public education and whether segregation of children in public schools solely by race, even if the physical facilities and other tangible factors were equal, deprived the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities. The US Supreme Court held in the affirmative as to both.

The Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and the "separate but equal" doctrine, finding that it had no place in public schools. It held that segregation was a denial of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment and that Separate educational facilities were inherently unequal.

The Court stated in its landmark decision:

We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.

In Sweatt v. Painter, .... in finding that a segregated law school for Negroes could not provide them equal educational opportunities, this Court relied in large part on "those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness in a law school." In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, supra, the Court, in requiring that a Negro admitted to a white graduate school be treated like all other students, again resorted to intangible considerations: ". . . his ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession."  Such considerations apply with added force to children in grade and high schools. To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The effect of this separation on their educational opportunities was well stated by a finding in the Kansas case by a court which nevertheless felt compelled to rule against the Negro plaintiffs:

"Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive  them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system."

Following this 1954 Supreme Court’s Brown school desegregation decision, a plethora of whites-only private academies sprang up throughout the South and other places. States passed laws that turned over their publicly owned land and public buildings for these private race segregated whites-only schools. These were publicly funded generous taxpayer gifts to white hegemony to maintain segregation.

Despite this landmark 1954 decision, apartheid - government mandated segregation by race, - continued through deeply ingrained Jim Crow culture, Jim Crow statutes and local ordinances. Blacks were legally restricted in many aspects with often violent consequences for violations. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's had not begun;  there was widespread black voter suppression. 

What You Can Do

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing persons who were subjected to racial harassment and retaliation in the workplace and/or were fired. If you have experienced racism at work, or if you reported it and no action was taken, if you are thinking of resigning, or think you will be fired, or have been fired, it is important that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in discrimination.

If you are being subjected to workplace discrimination, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation.

Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout New Jersey, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in southern, central, western and northern NJ to meet with clients.



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