Synopses & Reviews
Before 1954, both law and custom mandated strict racial segregation throughout much of the nation. That began to change with Brown v. Board of Education
, the landmark decision that overturned the pernicious "separate but equal" doctrine. In declaring that legally mandated school segregation was unconstitutional, the Supreme Court played a critical role in helping to dismantle America's own version of apartheid, Jim Crow.
This new study of Brown the title for a group of cases drawn from Kansas, Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, and the District of Columbia offers an insightful and original overview designed expressly for students and general readers. It is concise, up-to-date, highly readable, and very teachable.
The authors, all recognized authorities on legal history and civil rights law, do an admirable job of examining the fight for legal equality in its broad cultural and historical context. They convincingly show that Brown cannot be understood apart from the history of caste and exclusion in American society. That history antedated the very founding of the country and was supported by the nation's highest institutions, including the Supreme Court whose decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) supported the notion of "separate but equal."
Their book traces the lengthy court litigations, highlighting the pivotal role of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and including incisive portraits of key players, including co-plaintiff Oliver Brown, newly appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren, NAACP lawyer and future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, and Justice Felix Frankfurter, who recognized the crucial importance of a unanimous court decision and helped produce it. The authors simply but powerfully narrate their story and show that Brown not only changed the national equation of race and caste it also changed our view of the Court's role in American life.
As we prepare to commemorate the decision's fiftieth anniversary in May 2004, this book invites readers to appreciate the lasting importance of what was indisputably a landmark case.
"A vivid and comprehensive account....Accessible and shrewd in its judgments, this will be one of the definitive accounts of ears to come." Jeffrey Rosen, legal affairs editor of The New Republic and author of The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America
"Provides readers with a good overview of the most important decision by the Supreme Court in the twentieth century. The emphasis on culture as well as politics and law is particularly valuable." Mark Tushnet, author of Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 19361961
Traces the long and arduous road leading to the controversial landmark Supreme Court decision of 1954 that declared an end to institutionalized racism and offered hope and empowerment to the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 261-275) and index.
Tracing the litigations, highlighting the pivotal role of the NAACP, and including incisive portraits of key players, this book simply but powerfully shows that "Brown" not only changed the national equation of race and caste, it also changed our view of the Court's role in American life.
About the Author
Robert J. Cottrol is Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law and professor of history and sociology at George Washington University.
Raymond T. Diamond is C. J. Morrow Research Professor of Law and adjunct professor of African diaspora studies at Tulane University.
Leland B. Ware is the Louis L. Redding Professor for the Study of Law and Public Policy at the University of Delaware.
Table of Contents
1. "A People Apart"
2. "Separate and Unequal": An American Apartheid at the Dawn of an American Century
3. The NAACP in the Interwar Years: The Struggle Renewed
4. From Scientific Racism to Uneasy Egalitarianism: One Nation's Troubled Odyssey
5. Setting the Stage
6. Arguing the Case
7. Anatomy of a Decision
8. Brown II: "All Deliberate Speed"
9. From Target to Icon: Brown and the Role of Courts in American Life
Epilogue: Brown and Race: The Divided Legacy