GXB16390 1950s – Desegregation of Public Schools by Paul and Chris Calle © Wind River Studios

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court directly reversed the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896, which held that “separate but equal accommodations” for the races was not unconstitutional. In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the court unanimously ruled, “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” The court’s epic decision declared that segregated schools deprived black citizens of equal protection of the law under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution (states may not make or enforce laws that restrict the rights of citizens of the United States). In May of 1955, the Supreme Court ordered an end to segregated schools “with all deliberate speed.” On September 2, 1957, Arkansas governor Orval Faubus sent National Guardsmen to Little Rock Central High School to prevent nine black students from attending. On September 25, President Eisenhower dispatched a U.S. paratrooper unit to permit these students safe entry to the school. Throughout the 1950s, progress was made towards desegregating not only the schools, but interstate transportation, publicly owned facilities, and restaurant and hotel accommodations as well.

Image and Text © Wind River Studios