Black, White and Brown: The Landmark School Desegregation Case in Retrospect



Edited by Clare Cushman and Melvin I. Urofsky

Few decisions in constitutional law have had as dramatic an impact on American life as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954). This collection of essays published by the Supreme Court Historical Society and CQ Press to commemorate Brown′s 50th anniversary, captures the complex history and legacy of the decision that changed public education and race relations in America.

Leading constitutional scholars chronicle the path of the law from Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) legitimating "separate but equal" in all realms of public life to Brown holding segregated schools to be "inherently unequal" in 1954.

The essays in Black, White and Brown examine:

  • How civil rights litigators chipped away at the logic underpinning the separate-but-equal doctrine, focusing their greatest efforts on exposing the injustice of segregation in education. These essays bring that struggle into clearer focus.
  • The challenges in enforcing Brown and its impact on African-American rights and race relations in America.
  • How public and scholarly opinion about the case has changed over the last five decades and what lessons can be learned from Brown.
  • The role that the lawsuit played in the lives of some of the litigants, the justices, the law clerks, and the attorneys who argued the case.

High school students and educators will find a lively, easy-to-read collection that makes the complex constitutional and social issues comprehensible. For educators, the volume includes an essay that traces the best methods and resources for teaching the case in the classroom. Also included are a bibliographic essay, index to aid further research, and nine pages of illustrations.

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