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
  • Clarendon County, SC
  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Farmville, Virginia
  • New Castle County, DE
  • Washington, DC
The Decision

Washington, D.C.: A Challenge to Jim Crow in the Nation’s Capital

Bolling v. Sharpe

On behalf of Spottswood Bolling and other students, James Nabrit filed suit against the president of the Board of Education, C. Melvin Sharpe. Nabrit argued directly against segregated schools as unconstitutional. Judge Walter Bastian of the U.S. District Court dismissed Bolling v. Sharpe on the basis that separate but equal remained the law of the land. Nabrit and other lawyers were preparing to appeal the case when the Supreme Court asked to review Bolling v. Sharpe.

Bolling brief submitted to the Supreme Court

Bolling brief submitted to the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court chose to combine Bolling v. Sharpe with the other segregated schooling cases in October 1952.
(Courtesy of the Supreme Court)

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