HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Retired » Retired Forums » 2016 Postmortem (Forum) » Imagine if our civil righ... » Reply #174

Response to 99th_Monkey (Reply #173)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 11:11 PM

174. You're right but it wasn't just to avoid personal danger - there was a bigger strategy there

Houston and Marshall knew that "separate but equal" was too deeply ingrained into the societal structure for them to be able to attack it head on. They had to slowly and deliberately build up a case in the course, which they did through a series of cases.

As you probably know, the doctrine of "separate but equal" provided that segregation by race was not a violation of the Equal Protection provision of the 14th Amendment provided the separate facilities were equal. Houston knew that the very act of segregation was designed to demean black people - to impose a badge of inferiority on them. But they knew that that point of view would never be accepted at that time.

So, instead of trying to dismantle segregation outright, they brought cases designed to enforce the law as it stood, knowing that it could never be truly be enforced since segregated facilities could never be truly equal. And they did that very strategically. They started by suing a law school for providing unequal facilities for a black law student. The case dragged on as the state kept "trying" to make the facilities equal. Finally, the Supreme Court ruled that, no matter what the school was doing, they could not provide a completely equal education to the black plaintiff because separating him from white students undermined the value of his education. They ordered the white law school desegregated.

Houston and Marshall focused on law school for a reason - they knew that the Justices had all attended law school and, therefore, understood all of the nuances of a law school education and that it was, as the court stated, "more than bricks and mortar."

They continued this strategy over the years, trying to force colleges, universities and school districts to equalize their facilities, knowing that they could never make the institutions completely equal as long as they were separated by race. This eventually culminated in Brown v. Board of Education when the Supreme Court, citing the precedents that the NAACP lawyers had painstakingly developed over the previous two decades, ruled UNANIMOUSLY that school segregation was unconstitutional.

We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does . . .

In Sweatt v. Painter, supra, in finding that a segregated law school for Negroes could not provide them equal educational opportunities, this Court relied in large part on "those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness in a law school." In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, supra, the Court, in requiring that a Negro admitted to a white graduate school be treated like all other students, again resorted to intangible considerations: '. . . his ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession.' Such considerations apply with added force to children in grade and high schools. To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The effect of this separation on their educational opportunities was well stated by a finding in the Kansas case by a court which nevertheless felt compelled to rule against the Negro plaintiffs: Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system. Whatever may have been the extent of psychological knowledge at the time of Plessy v. Ferguson, this finding is amply supported by modern authority. Any language in Plessy v. Ferguson contrary to this finding is rejected.

We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.


Such a unanimous, forceful, unequivocal rejection of Plessy could never have been obtained had the NAACP lawyers not taken their time. If they had run full bore after Plessy in the 1930s, they would have been shut down, Plessy would have been upheld and strengthened and they may never had had another chance to overturn it.

I urge you to read more about this - the "Road to Brown" is one of the most inspiring and informative sagas of our American history - I actually get chills and sometimes get choked up whenever I read the opinion because it reminds me that, as Dr. King said, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

It saddens me that more people don't know about this part of our history. But I really appreciate your interest and willingness to delve into it more. I think it will make you very proud.

Reply to this post

Back to OP Alert abuse Link to post in-thread

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 229 replies Author Time Post
Empowerer Jan 2016 OP
99Forever Jan 2016 #1
Empowerer Jan 2016 #12
99Forever Jan 2016 #14
Empowerer Jan 2016 #16
DefenseLawyer Jan 2016 #36
Empowerer Jan 2016 #74
99Forever Jan 2016 #79
Empowerer Jan 2016 #84
99Forever Jan 2016 #88
1StrongBlackMan Jan 2016 #151
Empowerer Feb 2016 #181
DefenseLawyer Jan 2016 #95
Arazi Jan 2016 #102
libdem4life Jan 2016 #105
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #129
Arazi Jan 2016 #132
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #146
Arazi Jan 2016 #149
1StrongBlackMan Jan 2016 #157
DefenseLawyer Jan 2016 #161
1StrongBlackMan Jan 2016 #139
Number23 Jan 2016 #143
1StrongBlackMan Jan 2016 #158
Ken Burch Feb 2016 #214
Empowerer Feb 2016 #217
JackRiddler Jan 2016 #2
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #3
dsc Jan 2016 #25
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #28
dsc Jan 2016 #33
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #35
dsc Jan 2016 #41
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #44
dsc Jan 2016 #50
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #54
dsc Jan 2016 #57
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #59
dsc Jan 2016 #63
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #64
dsc Jan 2016 #117
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #122
zappaman Jan 2016 #97
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #108
Empowerer Feb 2016 #183
Robbins Jan 2016 #4
Empowerer Jan 2016 #17
frylock Jan 2016 #5
JackRiddler Jan 2016 #6
frylock Jan 2016 #9
99th_Monkey Jan 2016 #11
Empowerer Jan 2016 #22
99th_Monkey Jan 2016 #60
Empowerer Jan 2016 #77
99th_Monkey Jan 2016 #173
LineLineLineLineLineLineLineReply You're right but it wasn't just to avoid personal danger - there was a bigger strategy there
Empowerer Jan 2016 #174
99th_Monkey Feb 2016 #208
Empowerer Feb 2016 #211
SMC22307 Jan 2016 #153
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #142
frylock Jan 2016 #150
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #155
Skidmore Jan 2016 #169
sheshe2 Jan 2016 #175
Empowerer Feb 2016 #184
Hoyt Jan 2016 #7
oasis Jan 2016 #21
Hoyt Jan 2016 #23
Vinca Jan 2016 #8
AtomicKitten Jan 2016 #65
Empowerer Jan 2016 #82
AtomicKitten Jan 2016 #85
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #131
AtomicKitten Jan 2016 #138
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #152
AtomicKitten Jan 2016 #156
Empowerer Jan 2016 #134
DefenseLawyer Jan 2016 #10
JackRiddler Jan 2016 #13
Arazi Jan 2016 #18
Empowerer Jan 2016 #52
Arazi Jan 2016 #67
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #125
Arazi Jan 2016 #128
dsc Jan 2016 #29
JRLeft Jan 2016 #39
Empowerer Jan 2016 #38
DefenseLawyer Jan 2016 #45
Arazi Jan 2016 #61
Empowerer Jan 2016 #68
DefenseLawyer Jan 2016 #86
Empowerer Jan 2016 #94
Empowerer Jan 2016 #51
mythology Jan 2016 #71
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #126
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #135
DefenseLawyer Jan 2016 #147
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #159
DefenseLawyer Jan 2016 #162
Arazi Jan 2016 #148
Motown_Johnny Jan 2016 #15
Armstead Jan 2016 #19
demmiblue Jan 2016 #31
QC Jan 2016 #42
hobbit709 Jan 2016 #20
demmiblue Jan 2016 #26
Empowerer Jan 2016 #47
JustAnotherGen Jan 2016 #164
JRLeft Jan 2016 #24
Vattel Jan 2016 #27
EdwardBernays Jan 2016 #30
radical noodle Feb 2016 #229
cherokeeprogressive Jan 2016 #32
Tom Rinaldo Jan 2016 #34
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #37
dsc Jan 2016 #43
Tom Rinaldo Jan 2016 #46
KingCharlemagne Feb 2016 #177
Ron Green Jan 2016 #40
DisgustipatedinCA Jan 2016 #48
JRLeft Jan 2016 #49
JustinL Jan 2016 #53
malletgirl02 Jan 2016 #83
retrowire Jan 2016 #98
hedgehog Jan 2016 #166
AgingAmerican Jan 2016 #55
Stargleamer Jan 2016 #56
Empowerer Jan 2016 #69
RobertEarl Jan 2016 #75
Empowerer Jan 2016 #87
RobertEarl Jan 2016 #92
Empowerer Jan 2016 #96
retrowire Jan 2016 #99
RobertEarl Jan 2016 #100
JustinL Jan 2016 #109
1000words Jan 2016 #58
Gregorian Jan 2016 #62
JI7 Jan 2016 #130
Hekate Jan 2016 #66
JRLeft Jan 2016 #70
Hekate Jan 2016 #73
JRLeft Jan 2016 #113
Hekate Jan 2016 #115
JRLeft Jan 2016 #118
Hekate Jan 2016 #136
JRLeft Jan 2016 #141
JustinL Jan 2016 #104
Empowerer Jan 2016 #107
DefenseLawyer Jan 2016 #154
MrMickeysMom Jan 2016 #72
Arazi Jan 2016 #78
malletgirl02 Jan 2016 #76
Empowerer Jan 2016 #90
The Velveteen Ocelot Jan 2016 #80
Empowerer Jan 2016 #91
DemocratSinceBirth Jan 2016 #81
lovemydog Feb 2016 #189
loyalsister Jan 2016 #89
BillZBubb Jan 2016 #93
Empowerer Jan 2016 #171
Ferd Berfel Jan 2016 #101
Empowerer Jan 2016 #103
libdem4life Jan 2016 #106
beam me up scottie Jan 2016 #111
libdem4life Jan 2016 #114
Empowerer Jan 2016 #112
libdem4life Jan 2016 #116
Arazi Jan 2016 #120
libdem4life Jan 2016 #121
SMC22307 Jan 2016 #110
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #124
SMC22307 Jan 2016 #145
FrenchieCat Jan 2016 #119
jfern Jan 2016 #123
1StrongBlackMan Jan 2016 #127
Armstead Jan 2016 #133
1StrongBlackMan Feb 2016 #194
Armstead Feb 2016 #196
1StrongBlackMan Feb 2016 #198
Armstead Feb 2016 #200
1StrongBlackMan Feb 2016 #201
Armstead Feb 2016 #203
RobertEarl Jan 2016 #137
1StrongBlackMan Feb 2016 #197
hedgehog Jan 2016 #168
TheSarcastinator Jan 2016 #140
Empowerer Jan 2016 #170
Gothmog Jan 2016 #144
DonCoquixote Jan 2016 #160
1StrongBlackMan Jan 2016 #163
The Velveteen Ocelot Jan 2016 #165
Empowerer Jan 2016 #167
Warren Stupidity Jan 2016 #172
KingCharlemagne Feb 2016 #182
mcar Jan 2016 #176
Empowerer Feb 2016 #179
KingCharlemagne Feb 2016 #178
VulgarPoet Feb 2016 #199
Jamaal510 Feb 2016 #180
lovemydog Feb 2016 #188
DemocraticWing Feb 2016 #185
lovemydog Feb 2016 #186
Warren DeMontague Feb 2016 #187
Empowerer Feb 2016 #190
Warren DeMontague Feb 2016 #191
Empowerer Feb 2016 #193
Warren DeMontague Feb 2016 #206
mmonk Feb 2016 #192
whatchamacallit Feb 2016 #195
merrily Feb 2016 #202
DisgustipatedinCA Feb 2016 #204
tularetom Feb 2016 #205
Liberal_Stalwart71 Feb 2016 #207
Cali_Democrat Feb 2016 #209
kenfrequed Feb 2016 #210
Empowerer Feb 2016 #220
wildeyed Feb 2016 #212
Empowerer Feb 2016 #221
wildeyed Feb 2016 #224
Empowerer Feb 2016 #225
wildeyed Feb 2016 #228
Ken Burch Feb 2016 #213
Empowerer Feb 2016 #215
Ken Burch Feb 2016 #216
Empowerer Feb 2016 #218
Ken Burch Feb 2016 #219
Empowerer Feb 2016 #222
Ken Burch Feb 2016 #223
aikoaiko Feb 2016 #226
Empowerer Feb 2016 #227
Please login to view edit histories.