The question that will be investigated is, to what extent was the case of Brown v Board of Education ineffective during the civil rights movement, and what other steps were taken to establish equal rights?

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History HL: Americas

JB Makhani

Word Count-1990

A:Plan of Investigation

        The question that will be investigated is, to what extent was the case of Brown v Board of Education ineffective during the civil rights movement, and what other steps were taken to establish equal rights? Many people believe the Brown v Board of Education spearheaded the civil rights movement and changed things immediately. This paper persuades the audience that the civil rights movement was changed by an amalgamation of Supreme Court cases and other legislation. The argument is accomplished by researching both on the internet and in libraries to find primary and secondary sources to support the thesis statement, while also  using interviews from important figures in the Civil Rights Movement. The research includes the details of the landmark case, differing opinions on the effectiveness of the case, and other cases that may have been more or as important as Brown v Board of Education, such as Brown v Board of Education II.

B:Summary of Evidence

Several events that preceded the landmark cases in the 1950s were equally as important and set precedence for the final overturning of Plessy v Ferguson in 1898. In 1938, in Missouri v Canada, Lionel Gaines accomplished the right for blacks to receive in state education along with whites. However, this case still held that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional. It was not until 1950 in Sweatt v Painter that ruled Plessy v Ferguson unconstitutional and integrated law and graduate schools. In fact, it was Sweatt v Painter that was the landmark case overturning Plessy, and not Brown v Board of Education in 1954, in which  Earl Warren overturned separate but equal and integrated all public facilities. No time table was established in each of the Court cases. This problem was solved the next year through Brown v Board of Education II, establishing that school systems must abolish racism with “all deliberate speed”. Even so, states did not adhere the Court’s decision. Following inactivity on the enforcement front the Court decided Cooper v Aaron, stating that states could not choose to ignore Court’s decisions.

Background on Board of Education:

The case arose when Linda Brown of Kansas was forced to walk 1 mile through a railroad switchyard to get to a black school. As a result, on October 1, 1951, NAACP led a challenge of segregation. Luck struck when Supreme Court Justice Fred Vinson died of a heart attack in September 1953. Eisenhower replaced him with Earl Warren, an advocate of civil rights.

Psychologist Hugh Speer testified that the lack of interaction with whites made blacks have an unfair disadvantage. Reviewed studies that revealed black girls grew up in schools with low racial self-esteem.  Although the Court was unanimous in claiming that Congress did not mean for integration, but did not prohibit it, this led to future conflict between integrationists and separatists.


Brown v Board of Education drastically affect society, though not as much as was expected. Firstly, the landmark case did not abolish segregation in public areas such as restaurants. Also, Brown v Board of Education did not give a timeline for integration. However, this case showed that the Constitution was on the side of racial equality and led to the massive integration movement and other landmark cases. Despite the massive movement, by 1965, “only 2 percent of black schoolchildren attended integrated schools.” 

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Nixon used a Southern Strategy in 1960s to gain votes from whites who did not want to go to integrated schools, showing the vast amounts of separatists who wished to stay segregated.

Brown v Board of Education II:

The opposition was quelled in Cooper v Aaron. However, more protests ensued from Brown II than Brown because in Brown II the case said that states were required to implement integration orders. 

C:Evaluation of Sources

In “The Journal of Negro Education,” the origin is in 1994 and the book is written by three Kentucky professors, Charles Russo, John Harris III, and Rosetta ...

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