To what extent was the Brown v Topeka decision/ruling the most significant turning point for African American civil rights.
On the whole, when taking into account the most significant Supreme Court rulings in the period 1865-1992 I do agree that Brown v Topeka was the most significant turning point. However there were other factors which helped African Americans in the civil rights movement such as the role of African American leaders, Presidents, Chief Justices and the pressure brought about by the whole civil rights movement.
The Brown v Board of Education of Topeka (1954) was most definitely a contribution the Supreme Court made to the civil rights movement. In the Brown decision, the Court unanimously decided to reverse the Plessy v Ferguson decision of 1896 which had upheld the doctrine of “separate but equal” facilities i.e. the view that access to facilities such as hotels, schools and trains could be separate for blacks and whites as long as they were of equal standard. In 1954, the Court ruled that separate facilities were essentially unequal and therefore contrary to the Constitution.
Though the Brown decision had a limited immediate impact, it was a turning point. Of all the federal institutions, the Supreme Court showed they no longer had the political difficulties concerning positive action over civil rights that were still present in Congress and the Presidency. Moreover, the verdict gave many southern black people a belief in the American political system and the Constitution that Martin Luther King and the other leaders were later able to exploit effectively. The Brown decision signalled the start of a new era, though not an era of straightforward progress.