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The Civil Rights Movement
Transcript of The Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement?
The Civil Rights Movement
The Declaration of Independence, our founding document states:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
... but this statement was not truly for all people born in the US. These are the legal events that led to the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-twentieth century.
Segregation Begins - Public schools were segregated, and Blacks were barred from serving on juries, and testifying against Whites.
Civil Rights Act of 1866
The intention of this law was to protect all persons in the United States, including Blacks, in their civil rights.
Civil Rights Act of 1875
Discrimination in places of public accommodation was prohibited.
Dred Scott, Plaintiff in Error
John F. A. Sanford
The Supreme Court denied citizenship to Black people, setting the stage for their treatment as second class citizens.
Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
The first Black schools were set up under the direction of the Freedmen’s Bureau. One of those schools – Howard University – would eventually train and graduate the majority of the legal team that overturned Plessy, including Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified.
The 14th Amendment overruled Dred Scott v. Sanford. It guaranteed that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside, and that no state shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens, deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person the equal protection of the law.
Pro-segregation states would come to justify their policies based on the notion that segregation in their public school systems was a state’s rights issue.
Civil Rights Cases
The Court declared that the Fourteenth Amendment does not prohibit discrimination by private individuals or businesses, paving the way for segregation in public education.
1887 Jim Crow
The practices of comprehensive racial segregation known as "Jim Crow" emerged, and racial separation becomes entrenched.
Significance: Blacks largely disappeared from juries in the South.
Florida was the first state to enact a statute requiring segregation in places of public accommodation. Eight other states followed Florida's lead by 1892.
Homer Adolph Plessy, Plaintiff in Error
J.H. Ferguson, Judge of Section "A" Criminal District Court for the Parish of Orleans
Also known as Plessy v Ferguson
Homer A. Plessy challenged an 1890 Louisiana law that required separate train cars for Black Americans and White Americans. The Supreme Court held that separate but equal facilities for White and Black railroad passengers did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Significance: Plessy v. Ferguson established the “separate but equal” doctrine that would become the constitutional basis for segregation.
Justice John Marshall Harlan, the lone dissenter in Plessy, argued that forced segregation of the races stamped Blacks with a badge of inferiority. That same line of argument would become a decisive factor in the Brown v. Board decision.
Board of Education of Richmond County, State of Georgia
The Supreme Court upheld a local school board's decision to close a free public Black school due to fiscal constraints, despite the fact that the district continued to operate two free public white schools.
Significance: The Court’s opinion argued that there was no evidence in the record that the decision was based on racial discrimination and that the distribution of public funds for public education was within the discretion of school authorities.
Commonwealth of Kentucky
The Supreme Court upheld a Kentucky state law forbidding interracial instruction at all schools and colleges in the state.
National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People founded
W.E.B. DuBois, Ida Wells-Barnett, Mary White Ovington, and others founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Their mission was to eliminate lynching, and to fight racial and social injustice, primarily through legal action.
Significance: The NAACP became the primary tool for the legal attack on segregation, eventually trying the Brown v. Board of Education case.
Gong Lum v. Rice
In Gong Lum v. Rice the Supreme Court held that a Mississippi school district may require a Chinese-American girl to attend a segregated Black school rather than a White school.
Significance: The Court applied the "separate but equal" formulation of Plessy v. Ferguson to the public schools.
NAACP begins challenging segregation
Assisted by his protege Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, of the NAACP, began his strategy of challenging segregation in graduate and professional schools.
Significance: Houston developed a legal strategy that would eventually lead to victory over segregation in the nation’s schools through the Brown v. Board case. Houston’s rationale for attacking segregated law schools was largely two-pronged. First, the establishment of separate but equal law school facilities for Black and White students would become too costly for the states. Second, White judges who matriculated in some of the nation’s finest law schools could not, in good conscience, suggest that Black lawyers in segregated schools received "equal" legal training.
State of Missouri ex rel. Gaines
The Supreme Court decided in favor of Lloyd Gaines, a Black student who had been refused admission to the University of Missouri Law School.
Significance: This case set a precedent for other states to attempt to "equalize" Black school facilities, rather than integrate them. The Court held that the state must furnish Gaines "within its borders facilities for legal education substantially equal to those which the State there offered for the persons of the white race, whether or not other Negroes sought the same opportunity."
Sipuel v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma
The Court ruled denial of entrance to a state law school solely on the basis of race unconstitutional.
Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al.
Thurgood Marshall and NAACP officials met with Black residents of Clarendon County, SC. They decided that the NAACP would launch a test case against segregation in public schools if at least 20 plaintiffs could be found. By November, Harry Briggs and 19 other plaintiffs were assembled, and the NAACP filed a class action lawsuit against the Clarendon County School Board.
Significance: Briggs v. Elliott became one of the cases consolidated by the Supreme Court into Brown v. Board of Education.
Sweatt v. Painter
The Supreme Court held that the University of Texas Law School must admit a Black student, Heman Sweatt. The University of Texas Law School was far superior in its offerings and resources to the separate Black law school, which had been hastily established in a downtown basement.
Significance: The Supreme Court held that Texas failed to provide separate but equal education, prefiguring the future opinion in Brown that "separate but equal is inherently unequal."
McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents
The Supreme Court invalidated the University of Oklahoma's requirement that a Black student, admitted to a graduate program unavailable to him at the state's Black school, sit in separate sections of or in spaces adjacent to the classroom, library, and cafeteria.
Significance: The Supreme Court held that these restrictions were unconstitutional because it interfered with his "ability to study, to engage in discussions, and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession."
Bolling v. Sharpe
Charles Houston provided legal representation for the Consolidated Parents Group, who, under the direction of Gardner Bishop, attempted to enroll a group of Black students in all White John Philip Sousa Junior High School, in Washington, D.C.
Significance: The Bolling case became one of the consolidated Brown cases. The U. S. Supreme Court would eventually file a separate opinion on Bolling because the 14th Amendment was not applicable in Washington, D.C.
Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al.
This South Carolina case went to trial. Marshall and the NAACP presented a vast array of social science evidence showing how segregation harmed Black school children, including evidence from sociologist Kenneth Clark's controversial "Doll Study."
Significance: The U. S. District Court denied the Briggs plaintiff’s request to order desegregation of Clarendon County, SC, schools and instead ordered the equalization of Black schools. Judge Julius Waring was the lone dissenter.
Brown v. Board of Education
In August, a three-judge panel at the U. S. District Court unanimously held in the Brown v. Board of Education case that "no willful, intentional or substantial discrimination" existed in Topeka’s schools. The U. S. District Court found that the physical facilities in White and Black schools were comparable and that the lower court’s decisions in Sweatt v. Painter and McLaurin only applied to graduate education.
Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, VA
The U. S. District court found in favor of the school board under the theory of "separate but equal."
Significance: The U. S. District Court unanimously rejected the Davis plaintiffs’ request to order desegregation of Prince Edward County, VA, schools, ordering the "equalization" of Black schools instead.
Gebhart et al. v. Belton et al.; Gebhart et al. v. Bulah et al.; Belton et al. v. Gebhart et al.; Bulah et al. v. Gebhart et al.
A Delaware court ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to immediate admission to White public schools.
Significance: In both of the Gebhart cases, the court ruled that the plaintiffs were being denied equal protection of the law and ordered that the 11 children involved be immediately admitted to Delaware’s White schools. The board of education appealed the decision.
May 17, 1954
Brown v. Board of Education
The Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, and declared that racial segregation in public schools violated the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
Bolling v. Sharpe
That same day, the Court held that racial segregation in the District of Columbia public schools violated the Due Process clause of the 5th Amendment in Bolling v. Sharpe.
The Court scheduled arguments on remedy in Brown for October but eventually put them off until April of 1955.
Significance: The Court ruled that state-sanctioned segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th Amendment and was, therefore, unconstitutional. In the wake of the decision, the District of Columbia and some school districts in the border states began to desegregate their schools voluntarily.
State legislatures in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia adopted resolutions of "interposition and nullification" that declared the Court's decision to be "null, void, and no effect."
Various southern legislatures passed laws that imposed sanctions on anyone who implemented desegregation, and enacted school closing plans that authorized the suspension of public education, and the disbursement of public funds to parents to send their children to private schools.
May 31, 1955 Brown III
On the last day of the term, the Supreme Court handed down Brown II, ordering that desegregation occur with "all deliberate speed."
Significance: Brown II was intended to work out the mechanics of desegregation. Due to the vagueness of the term "all deliberate speed," many states were able to stall the Court’s order to desegregate their schools. The legal and social obstacles that southern states put in place and
Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), was a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court held that African Americans, whether enslaved or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court, and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. Dred Scott, an enslaved African American man who had been taken by his owners to free states and territories, attempted to sue for his freedom. In a 7–2 decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the Court denied Scott's request. For only the second time to that point in its history, the Supreme Court ruled an Act of Congress to be unconstitutional.