Brown vs. the Board of Education
This back to school season, we are taking advantage of this time to reflect on the accomplishments of civil rights leaders in the past that have made our #SquadGoals possible. Among these leaders are empowered young black students, including 6-year-old Ruby Bridges, the first black student to attend an all-white school in the American south in 1960. This groundbreaking moment in history follows the beginning of the desegregation of schools in America, starting in 1954. This is the year of Brown vs. the Board of Education, the court case that set the precedent to end the “separate but equal movement”.
This cornerstone event in the civil rights movement serves as the base for our mission with Blended Designs: to empower students of all skin tones and encourage through representation and providing gear that will allow students to do their best.
Separate But Equal
Brown vs. the Board of Education worked to end a precedent set in a 1896 court case, Plessy v. Ferguson. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana man, Homer Plessy, was not permitted to sit in a “whites only” car of a Louisiana train. The court decided that there was not a “meaningful difference” in the train cars serving blacks and whites, upholding the state’s Separate Car Act that allowed for the segregation of train cars. From this point, segregation was legal, as long as facilities provided to the races were “equal”. This barred blacks from using the same buses, schools, and other public facilities as whites.
In 1951, Linda Brown was denied entrance to an all white elementary school, casing her father, Oliver Brown, to file a first class lawsuit against the board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Brown said that the facilities provided to his daughter were not equal, and that the separation violated the “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment which states that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.
Brown’s case was combined with four other similar cases that were already pushing for the abolishment of Jim Crow and other racially discriminatory laws. These cases include: Briggs vs. Elliot, Davis vs. the Board of Eduction of Prince Edward County (VA), Bolling vs. Sharpe and Gebhart vs. Ethel. These cases were combined to create Brown vs. the Board of Education, led by their Chief Attorney, Thurgood Marshall, the head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
On May 17, 1954, newly appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place, as segregated school are “inherently unequal”. The court ruled that plaintiffs were being “deprived of equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment”.
This unanimous ruling paved the way for future civil rights movements, overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine. This also set the legal precedent used to overturn laws enforcing segregation in other public facilities. It upheld that, nationwide, schools would be fully desegregated in up to five years, ensuring that black children would have access to an education that could gain them entry to skilled jobs and colleges on an equal basis as white students.
Blended Designs has taken this mission of providing equal education opportunities for black students by creating a line of products to represent students of all skin tones and colors. By providing bags, totes and organizational tools with fun characters representing a broad range of melanin skin tones, we can encourage students to do their best. We utilize landmark breakthrough like Brown vs. the Board of Education and the accomplishments of Ruby Bridges to serve as motivation and inspiration to continue this mission in the future.