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

The Integrationists’ Arguments

Lawyers for the plaintiffs relied on legal arguments, historical evidence, and psychological studies:

  • In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court had misinterpreted the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Equal protection of the laws did not allow for racial segregation.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment allowed the government to prohibit any discriminatory state action based on race, including segregation in public schools.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment did not specify whether the states would be allowed to establish segregated education.
  • Psychological testing demonstrated the harmful effects of segregation on the minds of African American children.
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