The Result Of Brown V. Board Of Education Of Topeka

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On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision, ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial segregation in public educational facilities was unConstitutional. The case was brought on behalf of Linda Brown, a young black girl from Topeka, Kansas, who had been denied admission to her local elementary school on the basis of her skin color.

At the time, public facilities were segregated based on the justification that a 1896 Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson that “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cars conformed to the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. But in Brown’s case, the all-white school she wanted to attend was closer to her home and was far superior to the all-black school that other children of her skin color and from her neighborhood were required to attend.

The Warren Court ruled that not only was the doctrine of “separate but equal” unConstitutional in Brown’s case, it was unConstitutional in all cases because it stamped an inherent badge of inferiority on black students. A year later the Supreme Court published guidelines requiring public school systems to integrate “with all deliberate speed.”

Soon, black and white students alike were being bused miles out of their neighborhoods and across town in order to achieve the forced integration of schools. Many local schools were closed — most often schools that served all-black students, because of their inferior conditions — and teachers and administrators — again, mostly blacks — lost their jobs. Some communities saw riots and fistfights over the busing. Those fights often broke down over racial lines.

Fifty-nine years later, what has Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka wrought? For the most part, whites have fled the inner cities, and inner city schools continue to have a minority-predominant student body and are inferior to schools in the suburbs that have a predominantly white student body. That’s even though more and more money is spent on “education” and more and more Federal intervention occurs each year.

Rather than ruling on the law in the Brown decision, the Supreme Court deferred to social engineers who proclaimed that children in a multiracial environment would learn better than children in a single-race environment. In an essay titled “The Education of Minority Children,” Thomas Sowell showed that that is not so. He highlights many all-black schools that have turned out outstanding students. One of them was Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. But the Brown ruling changed all that.

Now, decades later, we still do not have racial integration in many of the urban schools around the country– and we also do not have Dunbar High School. Such are the ways of politics, where the crusade of the hour often blocks out everything else, at least until another crusade comes along and takes over the same monopoly of our mind.

Ironically, black high schools in Washington today have many of the so-called “prerequisites” for good education that never existed in the heyday of Dunbar High School– and yet the educational results are abysmal. “Adequate funding” is always included among these “prerequisites” and today the per pupil expenditure in the District of Columbia is among the highest in the nation. During its heyday, Dunbar was starved for funds and its average class size was in the 40s. Its lunchroom was so small that many of its students had to eat out on the streets. Its blackboards were cracked and it was 1950 before the school had a public address system. Yet, at that point, it had 80 years of achievement behind it– and only 5 more in front of it.

As a failing ghetto school today, Dunbar has a finer physical plant than it ever had when it was an academic success. Politics is also part of this picture. Immediate, tangible symbols are what matter within the limited time horizon of elected politicians. Throwing money at public schools produces such symbolic results, even if it cannot produce quality education.

We now have 59 years of experience showing that Federal intervention, forced desegregation and gobs of money don’t lead to a good education. As Fran Thomas, one black activist in Louisville, Ky., told The Atlantic of her decision to fight the district’s desegregation system: “I can see why everybody was excited when the law came down that we were integrated. They thought this was utopia, and that everything was going to be all right. We got a new school. We got a swimming pool and trees. Everybody was happy and ecstatic. But they didn’t know what the integration really meant–the harshness.” Thomas says she stopped believing in the promises of desegregation when she saw “the destroying of schools under the name of education.”

History shows a good education requires committed students, a strong faculty, a sound curriculum and a local school board dedicated to providing the best opportunities for its students to succeed — not central planners in ivory towers.

Personal Liberty

Bob Livingston

founder of Personal Liberty Digest™, is an ultra-conservative American author and editor of The Bob Livingston Letter™, in circulation since 1969. Bob has devoted much of his life to research and the quest for truth on a variety of subjects. Bob specializes in health issues such as nutritional supplements and alternatives to drugs, as well as issues of privacy (both personal and financial), asset protection and the preservation of freedom.

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  • Scott

    That last paragraph should be placed earlier in the essay, IMO.

  • topmah

    I never could understand why integration turned into ‘forced integration’. Like the Dunbar school example, the black HS in our town became a victim, as did its students. This school had an excellent reputation & its band was always the highlight of our annual Christmas parade–everyone delighted in their enthusiastic showmanship–alas, they’re no more. Farmed out to the white schools, their own school shut-down, they blended in with the white bands, who were far less energetic with their marching & playing. Once I asked a black female professor friend why it was felt necessary to force blacks to attend white schools, even if it meant being bussed & losing contact with many of their fellow blacks–I was absolutely stunned when she said that if they hadn’t forced them to, they probably would’ve stayed at their own all-black schools! As if that was a bad thing! She didn’t see that as showing no trust or respect for black families & their children–in fact, she so much as said that they were too backward to take advantage of their new freedom! How sad & how demeaning. Integration has done more to destroy the potential & ability of black children than anyone would’ve thought possible, with the exception, of course, of welfare & its almost complete obliteration of the intact two-parent black family…what a travesty!

  • Wellarmed

    I cannot disagree with the bulk of the Supreme Court interpretation that “separate but equal” policy was an infringement upon minority children’s rights to equal protection under the fourteenth amendment.

    I do find that the provision of forced integration places the court squarely in the realm of activism, at which point they assume authority not granted to them by the constitution or the people.

    Likewise, this ruling should not have any basis upon private property (businesses) which can and should set their own criteria for who they wish to, or not wish to serve, even if I find their exclusionary policies to be racists and deplorable.