BROWN v BOARD OF EDUCATION was significant in the history concerning the Civil Rights Movement. It was perhaps one of the first largest cases concerning segregation within schools that succeeded in its aim to enforce the 14th Amendment. However, there is dispute whether this case and its results were important or whether they had a limited effect on future work concerning integration with the US.
After the case, it was clear that major changes were occurring in other states. Places outside the Deep South (e.g.
Baltimore) began to integrate and within a year of the Supreme Court ruling in 1954, 70% of district schools in Washington DC were integrated. This shows that even though the case concerned only one state, several others began to act against segregation as it as a Supreme Court ruling which stated that segregation in schools was intrinsically wrong as it went against the 14th Amendment. Later on, this would also contribute to people’s view in general changing concerning life in general.By outlawing segregation in all public education, it implied that all forms of segregation was/should be illegal which in turn led to a larger volume of African-American and white activism against segregation, increasing the confidence of a majority of African-Americans that led to more participation in terms of volume and effect. An example of this is the Greensboro sit-in, which started off as only four African-American students going into a segregated cafï¿½ and ordering from a ‘white’s only’ counter and escalated to about 80 until Woolworths was forced to close. Also, it meant that people began to question and legal act against segregation, increasing the number of integrated buses and other institutions around the more open-minded North states.As the case was quite large and constantly in the papers, it also led to a large victory for the NAACP against segregation. Ever since the order to end discrimination in the US Military, Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP’s legal efforts for African-American rights were proving more effective.
Segregation in education was a large part of their campaign for equal rights for all ethnic groups, but for some time their progress had been slow. The eroding away of the, ‘separate but equal,’ ruling made by the Supreme Court in the PLESSY v FERGUSON case had taken some time to work against and even at the point of the Brown case it was still in progress. However, once this new case was seen, Thurgood went into motion. This win was a morale boost within the campaign and proved to them that their efforts were effective.However, it can be argued that the victory was by no means a total victory.
Though there was a minority of resistance in the North, in the Deep South, nearly all whites were against the whole principle of integration, one of the reasons being that the federal government was acting dictatorially by imposing their beliefs to everyone in the country which went against the states’ rights to self govern. By 1957, less than 12% of the 6300 school districts in the south had been integrated. Some went as far as to close down schools in order to prevent the integration of ethnics because they believed that it was against the rights of Christian Anglo-Saxons to be forced to integrate with a ‘lesser’ race.The Supreme Court also made it unclear of the timetable for change. Obviously, the change would be costly and difficult to enforce, especially in the Deep South, and therefore a clear statement was needed that would be supported.
This was Brown 2, the second statement concerning how integration should be enforced in all states and they should proceed, ‘with all deliberate speed’. However, this failed quite quickly because of the lack of support for President Eisenhower. This was significant to Brown 2 because without his support, states would, and did, view the ruling as unenforceable and therefore ignored it in some cases where segregation was supported by the white community.As President Eisenhower did very little to enforce the verdict, it meant that the Southern states felt as if he did not agree with ethnic equality.
However, he was seen as a man willing to fight for equal rights for all, but he was reluctant and afraid to encourage opposition of any form in the South. Though he said very little about the Brown verdict, what he did say was negative: that he regretted making Earl Warren Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; he doubted the ability of legislation changing the minds and hearts of the people; and even though he was Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces he did not use this power to impose the verdict because he said that using force would have a negative effect and was, ‘just plain nuts’.To conclude, it is clear that there are many reasons as to why the BROWN v BOARD OF EDUCATION verdict was important to the Civil Rights Movement.
However, the limitations of how the verdict was imposed clearly limited its effects on the country at the time.