A Divided Union

Civil Rights Movement Equal Education

The US constitution was supposed to provide equal rights for all people but was failing black Americans. Many states followed and enforced ‘Jim Crow’s laws’, which involved the segregation of black and whites. Black people had officially been given the vote early in the century but various practises were involved to stop them such as literacy tests that had to be passed before they could vote, which obstructed many poorly educated black Americans.

1954 -- Brown vs. Board of Education
In 1950 the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) brought several complaints involving black schools to court. A senior American judge ruled that all schools should provide an equal education for blacks and whites. However, by 1954 things hadn’t changed so the NAACP decided the only way to improve secure equal education was to desegregate schools. They brought forward the Linda Brown case. Eight year old Linda had to travel several kilometres and cross a dangerous railway to get to a black only school rather than a closer white only school. In May 1954 the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Brown and ordered all states to integrate schools.


1957 -- Little Rock
In 1957 nine black pupils were stopped from joining an all-white school at Little Rock. The Government ordered the Governor to let the children enrol. He refused claiming he could guarantee their safety. It was only when Eisenhower sent federal troops to protect the pupils that the governor backed down.
However, success was limited. By 1961 there were still no black children in white schools in the states of Alabama, Mississippi or Carolina. May felt the progress towards desegregation was slow.

A protest against school segregation