Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center

Segregated America
The Battleground
Legal Campaign
Five Communities Change a Nation
The Decision
  • Defenders of Segregation
  • Segregationists’ Argument
  • Challengers of Segregation
  • Integrationists’ Argument
  • Reaching a Decision
  • Court’s Decision
  • Timeline
Supreme Court Decision Timeline

June 9, 1952

Supreme Court notes probable jurisdiction in both the Briggs v. Elliott (South Carolina) and Brown v. Board of Education (Kansas) cases and sets them down for argument in the fall term.

October 8, 1952

The Davis v. School Board of Prince Edward County (Virginia) case is added to the other education cases.

October 16, 1952

John W. Davis

John W. Davis

John W. Davis walks outside the Supreme Court building, 1952. As a law student, Thurgood Marshall skipped classes to hear Davis argue before the Supreme Court. Courtesy of Supreme Court of the United States.


November 21, 1952

Bulah v. Gebhart and Belton v. Gebhart (Delaware) are included to make up the last of the school desegregation cases to be heard by the Court. Delaware’s attorney general objects to the cases being added on such short notice. But the Court refuses an extension, wanting to have representative cases from different parts of the country.
Marshall’s briefs

Marshall’s briefs

These volumes are Thurgood Marshall’s personal bound copies of the Brown v. Board of Education legal briefs submitted to the Court.
(Lent by the Marshall Family)

Vinson Court

Vinson Court

The Supreme Court members at the time of the Brown case, official photograph taken on October 12, 1949
(Courtesy of Supreme Court of the United States)


December 9-11, 1952

The Supreme Court hears arguments for the compiled school cases.
People lining up at the court

People lining up at the court

People line up at the Supreme Court building to hear the arguments before the justices, December 9, 1952.
(Courtesy of Library of Congress)

The Legal Defense Fund team

The Legal Defense Fund team

The Legal Defense Fund team of the NAACP (left to right): Louis Redding, Robert Carter, Oliver Hill, Thurgood Marshall, and Spottswood W. Robinson
(Courtesy of Associated Press, NAACP)

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