May 17 - 1954 - Brown v. Board of Education is Handed Down

The Topeka schools in the 1950s were segregated by race only at the elementary level, and they largely featured similar resources, facilities, and support at black and white schools. A group of parents still tried to challenge the segregation policy at the behest of the NAACP. Eventually, their case would reach the Supreme Court of the United States, along with five other cases regarding segregation in public education. Initially, the Supreme Court seemed to be mostly in favor of ruling segregation illegal, overruling the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision that said "separeate but equal" accommodations based on race was legal. Yet it took the death of Chief Justice Fred Vinson to really transform the decision into a landmark, because it meant the appointment of California Governor Earl Warren as Chief Justice. Warren sought not only to make the Brown decision one that overturned segregation, but to make the decision unanimous. In making the decision unanimous, Warren was able to say that segregation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, leading to a host of Civil Rights Cases.

William Floyd