100 Americans Making Constitutional History: A Biographical History presents 100 profiles of the key people behind some of the most important U.S. Supreme Court cases. Edited by Melvin I. Urofsky, a respected constitutional historian, each 2,000-word profile delves into the social and political context behind landmark Court decisions. For example, while a case like Brown v. Board of Education is about an important idea—the equal protection of the law—at its heart it is the story of a little girl, Linda Brown, who wanted to go to a decent school near her home. The outcome is accessible and objective “stories” about the individuals—heroes and scoundrels—who fought their way to constitutional history.

Darius and Vera Swann

Darius and Vera Swann

The Desegregation of Southern Schools

“Mama, you Put Me in the Wrong School!”

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Board of Education

402 U.S. 1 (1971)

“Mama, you put me in the wrong school!” Years later, Vera Swann recalled the plaintive cry of her six-year-old son, James, as he returned home from his first day at school in 1964. A note from the principal stated that James had been misplaced at the integrated Seversville Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the principal's note, James should start first grade at an all-black elementary school and then apply for transfer. Darius and Vera Swann, African American Presbyterian missionaries who had just completed more than a decade of service in India, had taken literally the statement ...

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