The 1954 Supreme Court decision in the 1954 case of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas was a landmark ruling that legitimized the cause of African American advancement in the United States by dismantling any legal and Constitutional basis for policies of racial segregation in public facilities. It accomplished this by asserting that rulings dating back to the 19th century Plessy vs.
Ferguson which upheld segregationist policies under the docrine of “separate but equal” were, in effect, unconstitutional as well, and declared that the discriminatory nature of racial segregation was in violation of the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed all citizens equal protection of the laws. ” The case of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas centered on thirteen parents bannered under Oliver Brown.
Brown was the father of a third grader who had to walk great distances to get to school, despite the fact that a white school was nearby. Brown tried to enroll her there, but was refused. He took his case to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which sought to challenge school segregation as unjust. The resultant victory was a necessary precursor to many other civil rights gains made by African Americans in the decades to come, most notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was passed ten years after.
The Civil Rights Act logically extended the abolition of school segregation towards the abolition of segregation in all public facilities. Conversely, it would be ludicrous for the Brown ruling to exist without the Civil Rights Act, as eliminating segregationist policies in only one sector of public institutions but maintaining it in other would make little sense from a Constitutional perspective. The Civil Rights Acts provided for racial equality in numerous ways. First, it mandated the equal application of voter registration requirements.
Second, it outlawed discrimination and/or segregation in commercial accommodations and public facilities such as schools, hotels, restaurants and hospitals. Third, it forbade any federally funded government agency from discrimination, under the threat of loss of funding. Fourth, it prohibited discrimination against individuals on the basis of not just their race, color, religion, gender or national origin, but his marital associations as well, excepting instances where such matters are pertinent to the occupational qualifications.
Finally, it provided for the formation of several powers necessary to the enforcement of these provisions. I believe that the Civil Rights Act is still necessary. While it would be nice to believe that modern America is in an enlightened state that takes racial egalitarianism as a default disposition, it has become increasingly necessary that we enshrine our values within the framework of the law.
This is not to suggest that the law is the definition of principle, but principles require legislative definition in order to ensure their consistent application. However, the Civil Rights Act is not perfect: It does not challenge that citizenship is not the sole requirement for voting. Additionally, the commissions it created, while tasked with the power to combat racial discrimination, are so hideously underfunded as to be rather ineffectual.