Legal Defense Fund

History of Legal Agitation

Scott v. Sandford (1857)

The Court ruled that: • No Negroes, not even free Negroes, could ever become citizens of the United States. They were "beings of an inferior order" not included in the phrase "all men" in the Declaration of Independence nor afforded any rights by the Constitution. •Dred Scott was not free, because Missouri law alone applied after he returned there. •Legally, slaves within the United States remained enslaved until the final ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution on December 6, 1865 (with final recognition of the amendment on December 18), eight months after the cessation of hostilities.

Jim Crow Laws

The term Jim Crow comes from the minstrel show song "Jump Jim Crow" written in 1828 and performed by Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice, a white English migrant to the U.S., the originator of blackface performance. Since Jim Crow law is a blanket term for any of this type of legislation following the end of Reconstruction, the exact date of inception for the laws is difficult to isolate; common consensus points to the 1890s Many state governments prevented blacks from voting by requiring poll taxes and literacy tests, both of which were not enforced on whites of British descent due to grandfather clauses. One common "literacy test" was to require the black would-be voter to recite the entire U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence from memory.
A depiction of Thomas D. Rice's "Jim Crow"

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

The "separate but equal" provision of public accommodations by state governments is constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. This case legalized Jim Crow Laws.

Cumming v. Board of Education of Richmond County (1899) Berea College v. Kentucky (1908)

Civil Rights Cases Before Legal Defense Fund

Guinn and Beal v. United States (1915) Powell, et al v. State of Alabama (1932) “Scottsboro Boys”

All of the Scottsboro Boys were eventually paroled, freed or pardoned, except for Haywood Patterson, who was tried and convicted of rape and given the death penalty four times. He escaped north to Detroit. When he was later arrested by the FBI in the fifties the governor of Michigan did not allow him to be extradited back to Alabama.

NAACP Lawyers

Charles Hamilton Houston Missouri ex rel Gaines v. Canada (1938)

Legal Defense Fund

Smith v. Allwright (1944) Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946) Sweatt v. Painter (1950) Brown et al v. Board of Education (1954)

Thurgood Marshall

After Brown

* 1956: Gayle v. Browder overturns segregation of city buses; see also Montgomery Bus Boycott. * 1957: Fikes v. Alabama was a further ruling against forced confessions. * 1958: Cooper v. Aaron barred Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus from interfering with the desegregation of Little Rock's Central High School; see also Little Rock Nine. * 1961: Holmes v. Danner began the desegregation of the University of Georgia. * 1962: Meredith v. Fair won James Meredith admission to the University of Mississippi * 1963: LDF attorneys defended Martin Luther King, Jr. against contempt charges for demonstrating without a permit in Birmingham, Alabama. See Letter from Birmingham Jail. * 1963: Watson v. City of Memphis overruled segregation of public parks. * 1963: Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital overruled segregation of hospitals that received federal construction funds. * 1964: Willis v. Pickrick Restaurant required Lester Maddox to integrate his restaurant; he closed it instead. * 1964: McLaughlin v. Florida ruled against anti-miscegenation laws. * 1965: Williams v. Wallace was a federal court order allowing a voting-rights march in Alabama, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which had previously been stopped twice by state police. * 1965: Hamm v. City of Rock Hill overturned the all convictions of demonstrators for participating in civil rights sit-ins. * 1965: Abernathy v. Alabama and Thomas v. Mississippi reversed convictions of Alabama and Mississippi Freedom Riders on the basis of Boynton v. Virginia. * 1967: Quarles v. Philip Morris overturned the practice of "departmental seniority", which had forced non-white workers to give up their seniority rights when they transferred to better jobs in previously white-only departments. * 1967: Green v. County School Board of New Kent County ruled that "freedom of choice" was an insufficient response to segregated schools. * 1968: Newman v. Piggie Park established that prevailing plaintiffs in civil rights act cases are entitled to receive attorneys' fees from the losing defendant. * 1969: Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education ruled that a Mississippi school district's foot-dragging with respect to desegregation violated the "all deliberate speed" mandate of Brown v. Board of Education. * 1969: Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham ruled against using the parade permitting process as a means of suppressing First Amendment rights. * 1969: Thorpe v. Housing Authority of Durham ruled that low-income public housing tenants could not be summarily evicted. * 1969: Sniadach v. Family Finance Corp. required due process for the garnishment of wages. * 1969: Allen v. State Board of Elections guaranteed the right to a write-in vote.

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