Thurgood Marshall and other members of the N.A.A.C.P. legal defense team who worked on the Brown v. Board of Education case. Photo Credit: © New York Public Library Digital Collections.

United States – Brown v. Board of Education

The Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case was initially heard by a three-judge panel from the U.S. District Court in Kansas, which agreed that public school segregation had a “detrimental effect upon the colored children” and contributed to “a sense of inferiority,” but still upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine, citing the United States Supreme Court precedent set in Plessy v. Ferguson,

The case then went before the United States Supreme Court who then published a unanimous decision on May 17, 1954. Chief Justice Warren wrote that “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” as segregated schools are “inherently unequal.” As a result, the Court ruled that the plaintiffs were being “deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”

This landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court ruled that the “separate but equal” doctrine was unconstitutional and essentially weakened Plessy v. Ferguson to the point that it was considered to have been de facto overruled.  The ruling also sparked the Civil Rights Movement and led to slow but gradual changes in the educational sector, as well as others including travel and tourism.