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Brown v. Board of Education is one of the most famous lawsuits to be heard and ruled by the Supreme Court in US. One of the reasons that make this lawsuit famous is the fact that it was a case that aimed at fighting for the education rights for the colored people or more specifically the African Americans. This lawsuit can be dated back to the time that Africans were slaves on the US soil before it gained its independence. This is to say that since then prejudice against the colored people has always been persistent among the White people even in this era of democracy and equality.
The Brown v. Board of education was as a result of a young girl by the name Linda Brown who was denied access to a local school for the whites. It is very unfair to make a young child walk for miles in order to attend a school with people of her origin whereas she could not attend a better school that was a stone throw from her home. It was Linda’s parents that decided to push this matter forward as they did not see any good reason why their daughter would be denied access to a good school that was a walking distance from her home. The case was first presented to the state courts for a hearing. Unfortunately the state courts referred to a case known as Plessy v. Ferguson which allowed different schools for the whites and the African Americans, though the schools had to be of an equal standard. Hence the state courts decided that there was no problem and it was only fair that the African Americans were introduced to the segregation system at an early age than when they were adults as they would have already been assimilated to the system.
Linda’s parents did not lose hope and through the help of an association known as “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP” decided to present their case at the Supreme courts where other similar cases were also pending hearing. All this was taking place in the year 1951 and it was during such time that the African Americans were openly prejudiced against and seen as inferior by the white Americans, hence this made the situation tough and the case a hard nut to crack.
The case went through a series of hearing, and it was until May, 1954 that the case saw the light of the day when the ruling by a bench of 9 judges was given in approval of Linda’s case and the other African American scholars who were about to suffer the same fate as she did. The 9 judges voted on this case without even one opposing and decided that it was humiliating, unethical and inhuman to separate and put children in different schools by the basis of the color of their skins.
This was a great achievement for the African Americans and a big leap towards achieving a society where everyone was considered equal and given just treatment without considering race or color of the skin. There was difficulty in some of the states in implementing the decision passed by the Supreme Court considering the fact that many of the white Americans were still not for equality with the African Americans, a scenario which is evident up to date.
Resistance to the Brown v. Education Board ruling
As earlier stated, not many Whites received the success of Linda Brown’s success with joy, in fact a greater number of people were against the desegregation system that had just been passed. Congress men even formed a resistance to overrule the Brown v. Education Board ruling and instead supported the Plessy v. Ferguson that was for different schools for both white Americans and the African Americans though of the same standard. Some of the arguments that were put across by the segregationists were such as: No African American had yet proved the segregation to be harmful, African Americans were still affected by the slavery enacted on their forefathers and therefore would not be in a suitable position to compete on the same level as that of the white Americans, the fact that segregation was a state affair and thus should be left to the relevant state authorities to make the ruling.
The resistance to Brown v. Education Board was most rampant among the southerners or the white Americans that lived in the southern states. Some of the schools were even closed down for a period as long as five years just to resist the new desegregation order. As much as the ruling seemed to vouch for an end to racism and white supremacy nothing much had changed at the grass root level.
Another disturbing fact which came after te ruling on the Brown v. Education Board law suit was passed, is that even those African Americans who managed to join the white students in class got prejudiced against by their fellow classmates and even teachers. It would be very uncomfortable for a child to enter a class and suddenly everyone starts murmuring or everyone bursts out in laughter or a situation whereby no one talks to you on your way home. Such were the practices that took place in the schools after the ruling was passed. It is rather obvious that no human with feelings no matter how strong he or she may be would be expected to perform well in class.
Desegregation had been well achieved but the actual problem was yet far from being solved. It was during this era still that the African American students did not perform in class. One reason being that they had been introduced in a new environment with White children which made them even feel small and inferior to them. It was also noted that the white teachers also formed a negative attitude towards the African Americans in class, to the extent that a teacher would deny marks to a black student just to make his or her fellow student appeared smarter or more intelligent than the black student, whereas in real sense the African American student was the smarter one.
Impact of the Brown v. Education ruling on the economy
These effects were not immediate; in fact actual tangible effects started being noted long after the ruling had been passed and after desegregation became an accepted fact in the American schools. Before 1950 whereby the Brown v. Education Board was not even heard of, the schools for the African Americans were poorly funded and ill-equipped, more so their teachers were either not qualified or poorly trained. In fact an analysis showed that about the ratio of government expenditure in schools was $150 for white schools and only $50 for the African American schools.
One of the effects of the ruling was that the economic gap between the white Americans and the African Americans was greatly reduced. Before then the African Americans normally did not land on the white collar jobs and instead they always had a low income and thus the impact was that the African Americans never got to develop or grow economy wise and would always be at the mercy of the white Americans. Hence with the desegregation in America the African Americans had access to White Collar jobs, the black teachers were as good as the white teachers or even better. This gave the African Americans and the White Americans the same platform on which to compete for jobs.(Martin, 1998)
With time the African Americans got better salaries this enabled them to move to better places, it also made them afford good schools for their children. As a result with good education and a better source of livelihood the African Americans had in a short time though a few had attained a similar economic status to that of the white Americans.
For the white Americans, theirs was a different story; this is because the African Americans were now a growing and potential threat to their economic dominance and were prepared to do anything to avoid that ever happening. This is now what took segregation from schools to the work place and this is considered as one of the major setbacks of the Brown v. Education Board ruling. In this case the African Americans were prejudiced against in the work place, where by an African American would be denied a job despite the fact that he was the most qualifies for that particular job. This weighed negatively in the long term on the American economy whereby the productive citizens were denied a chance to participate in the growth economy and as a result some of the most innovative minds that if given a chance America would be much further ahead than it is at the moment.(Kluger, 1976)
Failure of Brown v. Education Board ruling
Truth be told, the social gap between the African Americans has not only widened in schools but also out there especially in the places of work, social institutions. It is very evident, that one would walk into a church today and confidently say that that church is for African Americans. Why? This is because on entering that particular church one realizes that only a handful of White Americans are present and the rest are all African Americans. The vision of Brown was to have an equal social status where everyone interacted freely regardless of the color of their skin. Thus this can be considered as one of the major setbacks of the Brown ruling whereby the social gap between the African Americans and the white Americans has but widened contrary to the vision that the parents of Linda Brown had when they set foot to court more than 50 years ago.
The decision that was passed in 1954 was to serve as a blueprint for coexistence not only in schools but also in the entire America. The ruling on the Brown lawsuit did create hope of equality in both private and public schools in America but it being a success is questionable beyond doubt owing to the fact that children in schools be it high school or colleges, segregation and racism is still evident.
Thus it would be only wise to device ways other than constitutional ways to solve the racism menace that is still eating up on the American people. It has been proved that the Brown v. Education Board was only implemented in writing but not in practice. It is thus necessary to device better means such as increasing the funding provided to schools and also posting qualified lecturers at the university level and also qualified teachers. Means need also to be devised, that will be used to effectively determine the standards of our schools.(Good, 2004)
In as much as we would want to appreciate the initiative that Oliver Brown took towards achieving a fair and just education system, we must be ready to accept the fact that the battle is not yet won. The responsibility has been passed on to us especially we scholars who were either affected by the racism and the prejudice against the African Americans by the white Americans. It is only through learning of the loop holes of the 1954 ruling that we can be able on building on a successful education system, not only in America but all over the world.
It is disturbing to learn that even the African Americans that vouched for integration of the learning institutions, if today asked whether that was the right decision they would readily disagree. Why? Most of the black or rather colored students who joined the mixed schools became even more vulnerable to the white racists especially the southerners who resisted the desegregation policy for more than 10 years. This as a result had a negative impact on the African American students and is still felt up to date. Such effects may include a student losing his or her self-esteem, being demoralized or even nurture deep hatred towards another student of a different color.
Evidently the dream towards achieving a society in America whereby racism and prejudice is a thing of the past is far from being achieved. It has been observed that despite the measures put into place to make this dream a reality the people of America have always found a way or rather a loop hole to go back to the old and uncivilized ways of judging the character of an individual based on the color of his skin rather than by his or her intellect.
America is a country that is made up of different cultural backgrounds and hence for us to combat this problem we need to appreciate the fact that we are culturally diversified and then take the next step of using our different cultures as a way to unite us rather than divide us. It is also evident that socioeconomically, the American citizens are very different and such are the pillars of prejudice and racism in the America that we have today.
The Browns’ vision to unite all Americans in spite of the color of their skin was not to be a physical union as many took it to be, whereby you make a Black and a White share the same classroom. The vision was to have a mutual acceptance and a change of heart among the Americans, whereby having a colored friend would be as good as having a friend of your own color. Thus, it is only through addressing the social injustice whereby the African Americans stop being seen as the poor population and the White Americans as the rich and successful.
Restructuring the education system in America and increasing funding to the less privileged in terms of access to quality are but a few but sure ways of achieving a society where everyone is equal despite his or her origin. One of the major issues that need to be addressed is that of the teachers. Poor schools mostly end up hiring less qualified teachers and this translates to the students, whereby they will not have academic qualification to join higher learning institutions and thus they end up dropping out of school. Hence if the government finds a way of targeting the very qualified teachers, and use them to train the already teaching but under qualified teachers, then we will surely be making progress.
The African Americans continue to suffer racial prejudice and inequality and even though the Brown v. Education Board set the first foot forward, it then means that it is our duty and responsibility to take the next steps, and if not then the ruling delivered on May 1954 will have been just like many other rulings that did not serve any purpose to the American citizen.