The Importance of Brown V. Education

By Phineas Upham

Brown V. Education is an oft-cited court case that established the “separate but equal” segregation of black and white school children is an unconstitutional practice. However, the case was highly polarizing from the beginning.

Brown V. Education came at a time in American history where the push the segregate blacks and whites was at an all-time high not seen since the Civil War era of America. The Cold War was also in full swing, and the Justices were keenly aware that America was being ripped apart in foreign press for its treatment of non-white citizens.

In many ways, the outcome of this case was as much legal opinion as it was populist.

Oliver Brown attempted to enroll his daughter in public school, at the insistence of the NAACP. The organization had gone across the country assembling similar cases, and by the time Brown’s case came up they had organized five. Brown V. Education refers colloquially to the Supreme Court Case, which encompassed all relevant cases across the nation.

The first attempt at hearing the case was a failure. Publicly, the court stated that it wished to re-hear the case in the fall of 1953 with regards to the Equal Protection Clause present in the Fourteenth Amendment. Privately, the court (led by Justice Felix Frankfurter) was attempting to secure a unanimous opinion that would outlaw the practice of segregation entirely.

The final solution came from Justice Earl Warren, who had been invited to the White House to hear Eisenhower tell him that these “[Southern Whites] are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes.” Upon hearing this, and after much debate, Warren concluded that the only logical reason to continue segregationist policies was an honest belief in the inferiority of the African American. As the Justices realized this was not rational, they soon unanimously agreed to end segregation once and for all.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.