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Education Inequality From the 1870's to 1954-A Brief History by Comp, 2008

Education Inequality From the 1870's to 1954-A Brief History by Comp, 2008

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Published by David Comp

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Published by: David Comp on Dec 02, 2008
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05/09/2014

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EDUCATION (IN)EQUALITY FROM THE 1870’S TO 1954A BRIEF HISTORY
by David Comp2008 ©
 
2As early as 1849, African Americans began waging a legal battle for thedesegregation of schools and educational equality.
1
It wasn’t until May 17, 1954,however, when the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous judgment in favorof the Plaintiffs in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case
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that educationalequality became a legal right for African Americans across the United States. The Brownv. Board case reversed the historical 1896 Plessey v. Ferguson Supreme Court case whichallowed for public segregation under the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine.
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In the court’sruling on Brown v. Board, Supreme Chief Justice Earl Warren issued the opinion of thecourt and stated:We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities areinherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and otherssimilarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reasonof the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of thelaws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
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The Brown v. Board decision marked an important milestone in the rights of AfricanAmericans being recognized in the United States. The decision, however, did not put anend to the struggles that African Americans have endured for so many years. The fightfor civil rights and the actual desegregation of schools across the United States proved to
1
On December 4, 1849 the Roberts v. The City of Boston case was heard by the Massachusetts SupremeCourt. Benjamin Roberts sued the city of Boston because his five-year old daughter Sarah was bannedfrom the local primary school because she was Black. The court ruled in April of 1850 in favor of theschool committee and Boston’s schools remained segregated. Cited from The African American Registry.2005.
 Roberts vs. City of Boston begins
; Ladson-Billings, G. “Landing on the Wrong Note: The Price wePaid for Brown.”
 Educational Researcher 
33, no. 7 (2004): 4.http://www.aaregistry.com/african_american_history/1462/Roberts_vs_City_of_Boston_begins.
2
Full name of case and citation: Oliver Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka et al., 347 U.S. 483.
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Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).
Chief Justice Brown Opinion of the Court, Supreme Court of the United States
. Supreme Court Collection, Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School.http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0163_0537_ZS.html.
4
Oliver Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka et al., 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
 
3be significant and challenging for African Americans well beyond the Brown v. Boarddecision in 1954. A brief history of the schooling of African Americans from the mid- tolate-1800’s to 1954 will be presented to provide an important background and context tothe Brown v. Board case.In Pennsylvania, the 1870’s was a time of important legislative movement. In1870, the Republicans in the state legislature of Pennsylvania introduced legislation toend discrimination of African Americans in schools and in 1874 an antidiscrimination billpassed the state senate.
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By 1881, a county court ruled on a case brought by an AfricanAmerican father, Elias H. Allen, who wanted his children to attend a White public schoolin Meadville, Pennsylvania and determined that “the Pennsylvania segregation lawviolated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” and required thatAfrican American children be admitted to public schools that were closest to theirhomes.
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Vincent Franklin reports that the Philadelphia school system in 1908 consistedof nine Black public schools yet a majority of Black children attended mixed schools. Acomplicating factor during this time period was that African American teachers were notallowed to teach White children in the Philadelphia public school system. Severalresearch studies by individuals such as Byron Phillips and Howard Odum focused onintelligence and compared White and African American school aged children. The“results” showed that African American children were “retarded” more than Whitechildren were which further fueled the argument that African American and Whitechildren were to be schooled under different curriculums and that African American
5
Franklin, V.P. The Education of Black Philadelphia: The Social and Educational History of a MinorityCommunity, 1900-1950. (Philadelphia: University ofPennsylvania Press, 1979), 34.
6
Ibid.

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