Desegregating US schools

Updated 6:07 PM ET, Mon March 26, 2018
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Linda Brown, 9, walks past Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, in 1953. Her enrollment in the all-white school was blocked, leading her family to bring a lawsuit against the Topeka Board of Education. Four similar cases were combined with the Brown complaint and presented to the US Supreme Court as Brown v. Board of Education. The court's landmark ruling on the case on May 17, 1954, led to the desegregation of the US education system. Carl Iwasaki/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Linda Brown, center, and her sister Terry Lynn, far right, take a bus to Monroe Elementary School, an all-black school in Topeka, in 1953. Carl Iwasaki/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
The Brown sisters attend class at Monroe Elementary School in 1953. Linda is on the front row on the right, and Terry Lynn is in the far left row, third from the front. Carl Iwasaki/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
From left, lead lawyers Harold P. Boulware, Thurgood Marshall and Spottswood W. Robinson III confer at the US Supreme Court prior to presenting arguments in 1953. Marshall, the NAACP's Special Counsel and lead counsel for the plaintiffs, argued the case before the Supreme Court. New York World-Telegram/the Sun/Library of Congress
Among the other cases attached to Brown v. Board of Education was Dorothy Davis, et al. v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia. Pictured are some of the more than 100 students named in that case. The lawsuit initially sought repairs to Robert Moton High School, a segregated school in Farmville, Virginia. The suit was named for Dorothy E. Davis, pictured in the center with glasses.
People wait in line outside the Supreme Court during the hearings in 1953. New York World-Telegram/the Sun/Library of Congress
One of the key pieces presented against segregation was psychologist Kenneth Clark's "Doll Test" in the 1940s. Black children were shown two dolls, identical except for color, to determine racial perception and preference. A majority preferred the white doll and associated it with positive characteristics. The court cited Clark's study, saying, "To separate [African-American children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone." Gordon Parks/Ebony Magazine/Library of Congress
From left, lawyers George E.C. Hayes, Thurgood Marshall and James M. Nabrit join hands outside the US Supreme Court on May 17, 1954, in celebration of the court's historic ruling. The ruling read in part: "We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." ap
Fourth-graders, both black and white, dash for the playground at St. Martin School in Washington on September 17, 1954. The Supreme Court ruling did not set a schedule for the integration of schools, rather calling for "deliberate speed." The District of Columbia and four states acted to end segregation promptly, while other areas met with resistance. AP
Alex Wilson, a reporter from the Tri-State Defender, is shoved by an angry mob of white people near Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, on September 23, 1957. The fight started when nine black students gained entrance to the school as the US Army enforced integration. ap
National Guardsmen escort a black student from high school in Sturgis, Kentucky, at the end of a school day in September 1956. Jerry Wichser/Evening Courier/AP
Ten years after the Supreme Court's decision, protests were still taking place. Here, 2-year-old Prentice Sharpe joins older children picketing a predominantly black elementary school in Albany, New York, on May 18, 1964. Arthur Z. Brooks/AP