The following five cases were aggregated at the Supreme Court under
the name Brown v. Board of Education:
Began in 1947 when Reverend Joseph
Albert DeLaine wanted free bus transportation for his three children.
Initially targeting equality and not integration, Marshall visited
and in 1949, 20 plaintiffs demanded equal treatment across the board
in transportation, buildings, teachers' salaries and educational
materials. The case was named Briggs after the first plaintiff in
alphabetical order and Elliot was the chairman of the school district.
There were 47 black students in a class, to 28 white. There were
no bathrooms or electricity at the black schools. Two first-graders
walked five miles each way to school.
at Robert R. Moton High School, led by Barbara Johns, a 16 year
old junior, went on strike on April 23, 1951. Johns led the group
in a desegregation effort, which sprang from the desire of a new
school for blacks. The students called in the The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and lawyers
Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson III, black graduates of Howard
Law School, came to Farmville, VA to meet with them. On May 23,
a month after Johns called the strike, the lawyers filed suit.
Gardner Bishop wanted his daughter to be able
to go to a nearby white junior high that had hundreds of openings.
Instead, she had to attend an overcrowded black school far away
from her home. Black parents grew so angry by 1948 that they supported
a strike demanding equal facilities for black children. Charles
Houston, Marshalls' mentor, brought suit for Bishop, and in early
1951 the suit was refiled to include multiple plaintiffs. The new
suit said nothing about equalizing schools — reflecting the new strategy
of the NAACP to attack segregation itself.
in Delaware was brought by parent Sarah Bulah, whose daughter Shirley
was not provided a school bus but instead had to be driven to a
one-room schoolhouse miles away. Louis Redding, a 1923 graduate
of Brown University and graduate of Harvard Law School took on the
Delaware case, as did NAACP attorney Jack Greenberg. In 1952 the
court ruled that Shirley Bulah and ten other black children were
entitled to immediate admission to the white schools in their communities.
The court maintained that segregation was illegal as practiced,
but did not go so far as to say that racial segregation was Unconstitutional.
Linda Brown, a seven-year-old
third grader, walked six blocks to catch the school bus to be driven
to her segregated school even though there was a school seven blocks
from her home. In Topeka, the segregated black schools were nearly
equal to white schools, and public transportation was offered to
all children who lived a certain distance from school. This made
Topeka the ideal test case for the NAACP's strategy to not only
unequal facilities, but the very principle of segregation.