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

The NAACP Targets Higher Education

A long-range strategic plan grew out of extensive research about the most effective means of destroying segregation. This plan involved mobilizing civil rights plaintiffs and lawyers in local African American communities. Over time, the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund won a series of groundbreaking cases that chipped away at the edifice of segregated university education. These victories served as the legal foundation for a head-on attack on state-imposed segregation.
The Margold Report

The Margold Report

In 1930 the NAACP commissioned attorney Nathan Margold to produce a plan for a legal campaign against segregation. The Margold Report proposed to attack the doctrine of separate but equal by challenging the inherent inequality of segregation in publicly funded primary and secondary schools.

Charles Hamilton Houston, however, recognized the pervasiveness of racism and believed that they needed to first establish a series of legal precedents. He modified the Margold Report by beginning the NAACP’s legal campaign with lawsuits for equal facilities in graduate and professional schools.

(Lent by American Fund for Public Service Records, Manuscripts and Archives, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations)

Back to top