How were separate schools for Black students and white students not equal?

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Ways in which Black and white schools were not equal include lack of funding for Black schools and fewer resources in Black schools.

The 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling introduced the notion that racially segregated facilities were not unconstitutional as long as they were equal in quality. This was known as the “separate but equal” doctrine, and it included racially segregated schools.

But these schools were far from equal in quality. Schools for white children had access to more funding and therefore more academic resources and teachers who received more training. Schools for Black students received little funding and thus tended to be overcrowded and lack resources for effective learning.

It is also important to recognize that the very ideology of separating students by skin color implies that people of different races are not equal. If policymakers truly saw all students as equal, then they would see no need to separate the students. Requiring Black students to study separately from white students implied that Black students were inferior to white students and should not be around white children.

It was not until the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 that racial segregation in schools was ruled unconstitutional. The process of desegregating schools was long and difficult, however, and Black students endured a great deal of racial violence and discrimination as they began to study alongside white students.

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