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Oliver Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Judgement, May 31, 1955

In Brown vs. Board of Education, a collection of five related cases, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) challenged the legality of racial segregation in public schools. The Supreme Court ruled that racially segregated public schools violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In a second decision, the court called for integration “with all deliberate speed.”

Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, National Archives and Records Administration

Oliver Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka Oliver Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka

Congress and the Court Secure Civil Rights

Congress and the Supreme Court have used their distinct but overlapping powers to define the legal basis of civil rights. After the Civil War and Reconstruction, violent intimidation and local Jim Crow laws continued to restrict black people, particularly in the South. Civil rights activists challenged those conditions, and in Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court declared school segregation unconstitutional. Over the next decade, Congress passed landmark legislation to end segregation and ensure all citizens may freely exercise their civil rights.

We must come to see with the jurists of yesterday that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our constitutional and God-given rights.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter From Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963