Which of the following statements is true of Brown v. Board of Education?
a. the Supreme Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson.
b. the Supreme Court ruled that "separate is inherently unequal."
c. the Supreme Court ruled that schools must integrate with "all deliberate speed."
d. the Supreme Court did all the above.
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The only correct answer to this question is D. All of the previous statements are actually correct about the Brown v. Board of Education case.
This case was all about outlawing segregation in public schools. The Plessy case had ruled that "separate but equal" accommodations for the races were legal under the Constitution. The Brown case overturned this and said that segregated schools could never truly be equal. The Court ordered desegregation with "all deliberate speed," which was a very vague standard that did not have a clear message as to when the schools had to be integrated.
While I agree that D is the correct answer, the Court's edict that school districts should act with "all deliberate speed" to end segregation was actually not part of the original Brown decision in 1954. One year later, the court requested to hear arguments about the ways and means by which integration could be implemented, because the "cases arose under different local conditions and their disposition will involve a variety of local problems." The original parties to Brown, which included several separate lawsuits, as well as attorneys general for several southern states, laid out the potential problems that they foresaw with integrating public schools. The Court's ruling that schools should integrate with "all deliberate speed" was in response to this case, often called Brown II. In the context of Warren's actual ruling, this was actually intended to be a mandate for rapid integration, as swift as local conditions would permit. The Supreme Court essentially left it to lower courts to decide what constituted a reasonable effort toward integration, but not only stipulated that districts move with "all deliberate speed" toward integration, but reminded courts that "at stake is the personal interest of the plaintiffs in admission to public schools as soon as practicable on a nondiscriminatory basis." The case did slow integration in a few cases (though it did uphold a decision to immediately integrate a district in Delaware,) and the decision was certainly vague, but it was not really a step back from the Court's decision in the original case.
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