In Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court overturned its earlier decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) in which the court had ruled that state-sponsored racial segregation was constitutional on the basis of “separate but equal.” Prior to Brown, racial segregation was typical in public education and, in fact, many states had laws that either required or permitted segregation in public schools. In effect, African American children were restricted to African American schools and were often denied access to comparable educational ...

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