Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture, and the Constitution / Edition 1

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Overview

Before 1954, both law and custom mandated strict racial segregation throughout much of the nation. That began to change with Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark decision that overturned the pernicious "separate but equal" doctrine. In declaring that legally mandated school segregation was unconstitutional, the Supreme Court played a critical role in helping to dismantle America's own version of apartheid, Jim Crow.This new study of Brown—the title for a group of cases drawn from Kansas, Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, and the District of Columbia—offers an insightful and original overview designed expressly for students and general readers. It is concise, up-to-date, highly readable, and very teachable. The authors, all recognized authorities on legal history and civil rights law, do an admirable job of examining the fight for legal equality in its broad cultural and historical context. They convincingly show that Brown cannot be understood apart from the history of caste and exclusion in American society. That history antedated the very founding of the country and was supported by the nation's highest institutions, including the Supreme Court whose decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) supported the notion of "separate but equal." Their book traces the lengthy court litigations, highlighting the pivotal role of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and including incisive portraits of key players, including co-plaintiff Oliver Brown, newly appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren, NAACP lawyer and future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, and Justice Felix Frankfurter, who recognized the crucial importance of a unanimous court decision and helped produce it. The authors simply but powerfully narrate their story and show that Brown not only changed the national equation of race and caste—it also changed our view of the Court's role in American life. As we prepare to commemorate the decision's fiftieth anniversary in May 2004, this book invites readers to appreciate the lasting importance of what was indisputably a landmark case. This book is part of the Landmark Law Cases and American Society series.

"A vivid and comprehensive account of the historical, legal, and political dramas surrounding one of the most important Supreme Court cases of the twentieth century. With humanity and wisdom, the authors defend the decision from some of its most influential critics and evaluate the forces that shaped it as well as those that it set into motion. Accessible and shrewd in its judgments, this will be one of the definitive accounts of the Brown decision for years to come."—Jeffrey Rosen, legal affairs editor of The New Republic and author of The Unwanted Gaze: The Destruction of Privacy in America "Provides readers with a good overview of the most important decision by the Supreme Court in the twentieth century. The emphasis on culture as well as politics and law is particularly valuable."—Mark Tushnet, author of Making Civil Rights Law: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court, 1936-1961

Author Biography: Robert J. Cottrol is Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law and professor of history and sociology at George Washington University. Raymond T. Diamond is C. J. Morrow Research Professor of Law and adjunct professor of African diaspora studies at Tulane University. Leland B. Ware is the Louis L. Redding Professor for the Study of Law and Public Policy at the University of Delaware.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Cottrol, Raymond T. Diamond, and Leland B. Ware (law, George Washington Univ., Tulane Univ., and the Univ. of Delaware, respectively) take us through a history of civil rights in education, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education case in May 2004. They begin by exploring the concept of caste in post-Civil War days, when castelike restrictions were routinely placed on former slaves. They then explore the relationship between law and culture, showing how legal opinions influenced society even as the laws of the day drew on the bigotry that was the norm. But when African Americans began bringing lawsuits against educational institutions, the Constitution came to their aid. Though the first skirmishes were fought in the arena of higher education, the focus eventually shifted to elementary and secondary education. The authors take us through these early legal battles, leading us up to the group of cases from Kansas, Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, and the District of Columbia known collectively as Brown v. Board of Education. But the story doesn't stop there. An epilog denotes the current status of segregation in the American educational system, showing how far we've slipped since this decision. Although filled with legalese, this book is fairly accessible and makes for a good selection for most public and academic libraries.-Terry Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700612895
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 9/16/2003
  • Series: Landmark Law Cases and American Society Ser.
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 832,135
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Editors' Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 "A People Apart" 11
2 "Separate and Unequal": An American Apartheid at the Dawn of an American Century 34
3 The NAACP in the Interwar Years: The Struggle Renewed 49
4 From Scientific Racism to Uneasy Egalitarianism: One Nation's Troubled Odyssey 77
5 Setting the Stage 101
6 Arguing the Case 119
7 Anatomy of a Decision 151
8 Brown II: "All Deliberate Speed" 183
9 From Target to Icon: Brown and the Role of Courts in American Life 208
Epilogue: Brown and Race: The Divided Legacy 234
Chronology 245
Bibliographical Essay 251
Bibliography 261
Index 277
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