Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center

Segregated America
The Battleground
Legal Campaign
  • Howard University
  • Charles Hamilton Houston
  • Preparing for Struggle
  • The NAACP
  • NAACP’s Legal Team
  • “Mr. Civil Rights”
  • Targeting Higher Education
  • Power of Precedent
  • Turning Point
Five Communities Change a Nation
The Decision

An Organized Legal Campaign

Sweatt v. Painter volumnes

Beginning in the 1930s, African American attorneys developed a long-range strategic plan to use the legal system to challenge official segregation in the United States. Their decades-long campaign demanded a powerful strategy, support from black communities across the country, and extraordinary legal expertise.

Two institutions led the way: the Howard University School of Law and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Lawyers, many trained at Howard and supported by the NAACP, helped African American plaintiffs bring lawsuits against segregated school systems. Case by case, their efforts began to undermine the legal principle of separate but equal.

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