- Leading Up to Brown
- Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
- The Evidence
- The Ruling
- Post-Brown Developments
- The First Decade
- The 1970s: Retreat Begins
- The 1980s and 1990s
- A New Century
- The Decision’s Impact
- Outcomes for Schools
- Other Educational Remedies
- Wider Impact
In May 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
, ushered in an era that would end the rights of states to mandate the separation of the races in public education. While the Court’s original ruling in Brown did not end segregated schooling, it afforded plaintiffs in segregated schools the right to seek an end to segregation in the more than 2,200 school districts that operated so-called dual systems. In dual or segregated systems, boards essentially operated two systems side-by-side, one for Whites, the other, usually of inferior quality, for Blacks. In ruling that segregation in public schools based on race violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
of the U.S. Constitution, the Court essentially repudiated its earlier holding in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that states could meet the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause by affording each racial group “separate but equal” facilities.In so doing, the Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment
applied the Bill of Rights
to the States.
After Brown, public school desegregation was slow to come for Black children due to racially segregated housing patterns, the difficulty of processing thousands of individual cases in federal trial courts on a district by district basis, and often entrenched resistance by Whites. The legal process proved expensive and costly to Black plaintiffs. In many major cities, segregation between Black and White children grew sharply. In Milwaukee, for example, one study found that Black children made up 61% of the public school population in 2000, up from 46% in 1990. “White flight,” the exit from racially mixed urban public schools that began with Brown, continues to the present. From 1987 to 1996, White enrollment in urban public schools declined in 238 metropolitan areas. This pattern began immediately after Brown in small and large urban communities.
Nevertheless, Brown stands out as the most significant Supreme Court case on education and is perhaps its most important decision of all time. Brown has had a far-reaching impact; it began an era of Equal Educational Opportunities
for all children that culminated in later developments advancing the rights of female students and children with disabilities. This essay reviews Brown’s legal history and related developments.
Leading Up to Brown
Prior to Brown, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP) and its independent legal arm, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), set the stage for an attack on Plessy v. Ferguson, which held that the states may satisfy the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
by providing “equal but separate” public facilities for Black and White citizens.
In Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938), the NAACP defended a Black male student who sought admission to the state’s White law school. State officials offered to pay his tuition at an out-of-state law school. However, the Supreme Court found that this offer denied the student his legal right to enjoy the same privilege the state offered its White citizens and that paying his tuition in another state would not have ended the discrimination.
In 1948, when the NAACP represented a Black applicant who sought to attend the White law school at the University of Oklahoma, officials established a separate law school for Blacks (Sipuel v. University of Oklahoma, 1948). In response to being sued, the state argued that the applicant had sought the relief offered (Flemming, 1976). The Court recognized that the Black student could not be expected to wait until a law school for Blacks was established and recommended her admission. The state admitted the applicant but segregated the Black student from White students in the classroom, library, and cafeteria. Pursuant to this action, the NAACP petitioned the Court for a correction of this form of segregation (McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 1950). The Court reasoned that insofar as this arrangement handicapped Black students, officials had to discontinue the practice. On that same day, the Court decided a case in favor of a Black male student who sought admission to the University of Texas School of Law in Sweatt v. Painter (1950).
At issue in Sweatt was the refusal of public officials to admit a Black student to the University of Texas School of Law; instead, it, too, established a separate law school for Blacks. Handing down a judgment in favor of the student, the Court explained that the separate law school for Blacks could not provide equal protection under the laws while emphasizing the “intangibles” that make educational institutions equal. In its rationale, the Court pointed out that the new Black law school excluded 85% of the population prepared to be lawyers in the state and could not equal the University of Texas School of Law. Four years later, in Brown, the Court held that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
enumerated in Sweatt and McLaurin “appl[ies] with added force to children in grade schools and high schools” (Flemming, 1976, p. 5).
In the litigation surrounding Brown, the Supreme Court addressed five cases attacking state enforced school segregation. The cases came from segregated school systems in Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, and Virginia. The fifth case argued on the same day, Bolling v. Sharpe
(1954), arose in Washington, D.C.
Brown was a class action suit brought on behalf of all Black children in the affected states. As part of the strategy, the plaintiffs required lawyers for the segregated school systems to make their cases for desegregation in federal trial courts, where they would have to argue based on the U.S. Constitution rather than the constitutions and laws of their own states.
Once Brown was appealed to the Supreme Court, a variety of parties on both sides filed amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs trying to influence its outcome. In addition, the United States solicitor general submitted a brief, in the early stages of Brown for President Truman, who gave Brown strong support. In the later stages, the solicitor general filed a brief on behalf of President Eisenhower, even though he offered only lukewarm support (Davis & Graham, 1995, p.117). Further, the attorney general’s office published a 600-page analysis of the Fourteenth Amendment
(Davis & Clark, 1994, pp.168–169).
Along with the amicus briefs, the Supreme Court commissioned its own study of the Fourteenth Amendment
without informing the parties. At oral arguments before the Court, each state’s attorney general argued for his or her state, while lawyers from the NAACP argued each of the Brown cases for the plaintiffs. Even so, the major focus was placed on Thurgood Marshall
for the NAACP and on John Davis, who argued the South Carolina case that began as Briggs v. Elliot, Members of Board of Trustees of School District No. 22, Clarendon County (1952). Davis, a Wall Street lawyer and a native of South Carolina, like Marshall, argued many cases before the high Court. Davis had been solicitor general, ambassador to England, and a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in 1924 (Berman, 1966, pp. 71–72).
At the end of its 1953 term, because the Court was unable to render judgment, it called for further arguments that fall. The Court set the Brown cases for reargument on questions relating to relief that should be granted in the event that the plaintiffs prevailed and segregation was declared unconstitutional (Motley, 1998, p. 106). In what became a major development before the Court could act in Brown, Chief Justice Vinson died, and President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren, eventual author of the Court’s opinion in Brown, as his replacement in the fall of 1953. After Brown, John Marshall
Harlan replaced Justice Jackson, who died, and John Davis became ill and could not reargue for the South Carolina case in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
II (1955), a subsequent case in which the Court provided guidelines for the implementation of Brown (Berman, 1966, p. 17).
During oral arguments, the NAACP’s task was to convince the Supreme Court that Plessy was wrongly decided and to prove that even where facilities were equal, segregation had harmful psychological effects on the ability of Black children to be educated. Psychologist Kenneth Clark provided evidence on the harmful effects of segregation on Black children. This evidence was developed in the Briggs case.
Clark’s work on the psychological effects of segregation on Black children in a Clarendon County elementary school provided the negative effects of segregated education on Black children (Motley, 1998). Clark’s study, which was cited in Brown, became known as the “doll study” after he used Black and White dolls to study the self-image of Black children, arguing that a poor self-image caused great harm to Black children and adults.
Among the harms that some of the adults who brought the case suffered as a result were that the leader, J. A. DeLaine, was dismissed from his job as a teacher; Levi Pearson’s crops rotted in the field because he could not get credit for machines to harvest them; and Harry Briggs, the named plaintiff, was fired as a gas-station attendant, while his wife was dismissed from her job as a motel maid. Twenty years, later the public schools in Clarendon County enrolled 3,000 Black children and one White child. DeLaine lived in exile for the remainder of his life.
The NAACP developed its strategy to attack public school segregation by purposefully selecting the school district in South Carolina that was involved in the Briggs case. The South Carolina case reached the Court first, but, exercising their discretion, the justices placed the Kansas case at the head of the list. Thus, the litigation became known as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
instead of Briggs. Even so, the Court’s opinion used most of the information in the Briggs brief rather than information from Kansas. During the oral arguments, each case was argued separately before the Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall
’s assistant counsel, Robert L. Carter, represented the Brown plaintiffs in oral arguments before the Court. Marshall and Davis, the lead counsels for the plaintiffs and defendants, respectively, argued Briggs.
In reaching its monumental decision striking down segregation based on race, the Supreme Court ruled that “segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of Equal Educational Opportunities
” (p. 493). As important as Brown was in striking down school desegregation, the Court did not address remedies. Instead, the Court ordered further oral arguments on the question of remedies.
The Supreme Court’s order in Brown II, calling for an end to segregated schooling “with all deliberate speed” (p. 301), offered guidance to federal trial courts to eliminate dual public school systems and to monitor how well their directives were being followed. The Court also gave local school officials and state authorities the responsibility for implementing decisions of federal district courts, and established a schedule for the lower courts to implement Brown.
The requirement for implementation with “all deliberate speed” of Brown II met with resistance from those who wished to retain segregated schools. In the first 25 years after Brown, the Supreme Court handed down more than 30 decisions involving desegregation of public schools. Yet, the Court has played a diminishing role in ensuring educational equity, resolving only six cases since then. The Court’s action, or more properly, inaction in the first 25 years, contributed to many school boards’ failure to implement Brown.
The First Decade
In 1964, in the 11 states that had formed the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, only 1.17% of Black children attended school with White children. Yet, the 1964 Civil Rights Act authorized the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue legal actions against segregated school systems. Prior to 1964, it was difficult in these states to secure plaintiffs or attorneys who were willing to represent litigants (a requirement in all states) in segregated school systems. Moreover, as reflected in Briggs, Black plaintiffs and their attorneys could suffer great personal and economic harm by opponents of school desegregation. Consequently, five years after the 1964 act, federal courts ordered more than 500 segregated schools to desegregate (Brown, 2004a; Motley, 1998, p. 86).
Another significant aspect of the 1964 act was that it allowed successful plaintiffs in school desegregation litigation to collect legal fees from offending school boards. These fees covered costs for proceedings from trial courts all the way to the Supreme Court and, typically, on remand for implementation, a costly process. In these instances, trial courts typically issued specific orders for achieving unitary school systems based on the six factors that the Supreme Court enunciated in Green v. County School Board of New Kent County
(1968), namely the composition of the student body, faculty, staff, transportation, Extracurricular Activities
, and facilities. Trial courts then ordinarily appointed court masters who served either as full- or part-time employees of the school boards to oversee the implementation of the plans that they approved and who reported back to the judges. Under this approach, many school systems were under judicial supervision for as long as 30 years and may have worked with several Court masters and judges.
Early resistance by state governments and local school systems to Brown included procedural delays and transfer plans. In 1963, in McNeese v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decided that the plaintiffs challenging the misconduct of school boards that denied minority students equal protection did not need to exhaust administrative remedies under state law before filing suit in federal courts. In Goss v. Board of Education
(1963), the Court struck down a school desegregation plan that allowed students, solely on the basis of their own race and racial composition of their assigned schools, to transfer on request from a school where they would be in racial minority back to their former segregated schools where their race was in the majority. The Court found the transfer plan unconstitutional, because making race the only criterion for the transfers tended to perpetuate segregation.
In Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County
(1964), the Supreme Court struck down a board’s refusal to keep the public schools open to obey a court order to desegregate. The Court ordered the board to reopen public schools after five years. In Rogers v. Paul (1965), the Court invalidated a plan that desegregated only one grade per year and left Black high school students assigned to a segregated school, which left them unable to take courses offered only in the White high school. The Court explained that such delays in desegregating schools were unacceptable. In Raney v. Board of Education (1968) and Monroe v. Board of Commissioners
(1968), the Court struck down freedom-of-choice plans. Raney involved two formerly segregated school districts that combined elementary and high schools. The Court found that the plan that permitted enrollment in either school was inadequate for conversion to a unitary school district, because after three years, not one White child had enrolled in a Black school. In Monroe, the Court struck down a transfer plan in which, after three years, one junior high school continued to have all Black students because no White students living in its attendance zone chose to remain in it. At the same time, only seven Black students had enrolled in the formerly all White junior high schools.
In Green, the Supreme Court began to end freedom-of-choice plans while fashioning remedies to move segregated school systems toward unitary status. The Court ordered the school board to terminate the use of a transfer plan that permitted students to transfer between segregated schools where not a single White student had transferred to a Black school. The Court listed six factors, identified earlier, that continue to be applied for dismantling dual school systems in a manner originally suggested in Brown.
The 1970s: Retreat Begins
The Supreme Court’s support for desegregation began to wane with the retirement of Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1970. The upshot was that by 1978, most supporters of Brown had departed the Court. In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971), the Court imposed a limit on the use of mathematical ratios of White to Black students for unitary systems. At the same time, the Court upheld the pairing and grouping of noncontiguous school zones as a desegregation tool while allowing the use of busing in assigning students to schools by race.
After Swann, in Wright v. Council of the City of Emporia (1972) and United States v. Scotland Neck City Board of Education (1972), the Supreme Court prohibited two cities that had been part of segregated county school systems from withdrawing from the county and establishing separate school systems. In Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, Colorado
(1973), the Court addressed its first de facto desegregation case outside of the South in a dispute involving Mexican American and Black students. In Keyes, the Court concluded that segregation can occur in the absence of a dually operated school system. The Court added that racial segregation can occur when boards build schools and set attendance boundaries to maintain White schools. Milliken v. Bradley
(1974) was the first major defeat for the forces of school desegregation. In Milliken, the Supreme Court maintained that unless the petitioner, the Detroit Board of Education, could demonstrate that the White suburbs contributed to segregating its schools, it was not entitled to the interdistrict remedies that it sought.
Following Milliken, the number and frequency of desegregation cases diminished. After 1974, the Court rendered few decisions wherein it called for the dismantling of segregated public school systems (Columbus v. Penick, 1979; Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman
II, 1979; Milliken v. Bradley
II, 1977). Instead, the Court mostly limited its review to questions about the appropriate boundaries of control for trial courts in desegregation cases, as in Pasadena City Board of Education v. Spangler (1976). In Pasadena, the Court upheld a trial court’s refusal to effect a change in a desegregation order once a school board had achieved unitary status. The Court was of the opinion that where changes to the neutral system of assigning students that it approved came about due to changes in residential patterns due to people relocating within the school system, and not because of the actions of educational officials, it did not have to act. The justices were satisfied that the trial court was correct in refusing to alter its desegregation order to require readjustment of the attendance zones.
The 1980s and 1990s
In the 1980s, the Court resolved two desegregation cases, Washington v. Seattle School District No. 1 (1982) and Crawford v. Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles
(1982), on the legality of stateapproved voter initiatives. In the case from Washington, the Court struck down a statewide initiative passed by voters that prohibited school boards from requiring students to attend schools other than those nearest to the student’s place of residence. The Court indicated that voters could not do this on the basis of race as stated in the initiative. In the dispute from Los Angeles, the Court upheld an amendment to the state constitution’s equal protection provision. This initiative prohibited state courts from ordering mandatory pupil assignments via transportation unless ordered by federal courts. The Court noted that because the state had no obligation to have a higher standard than the federal constitution, voters could repeal a provision.
The Supreme Court heard only four desegregation cases in the 1990s. In 1990 the Court agreed to review the long-running Missouri v. Jenkins
I (1990). A divided Court upheld the authority of a federal trial court judge to increase local taxes to pay for desegregating Kansas City’s public schools. However, the Court was less favorable to desegregation plans in two other cases in this decade, Board of Education of the Oklahoma City Public Schools v. Dowell (1991) and Freeman v. Pitts
(1992), and Missouri v. Jenkins
In Dowell, the Supreme Court found that because desegregation orders are not meant to operate in perpetuity, lower courts had to consider whether a school board had acted in good faith in trying to eliminate the vestiges of past discrimination as far as practicable in light of the Green factors. In Freeman, the Court also examined the Green factors in declaring that school systems could be declared unitary incrementally. In Jenkins II, the Court revisited the litigation in Kansas City in reversing an earlier decision in favor of the plaintiffs. The Court ruled that the trial court exceeded its discretion in calling for a desegregation remedy that required the state to pay for salary increases for all personnel to improve the quality of education programs in Kansas City, because student achievement levels were still below national norms at many grade levels.
A New Century
The Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007) reveals that it has largely stopped enforcing Brown except in districts already under district courts’ supervision. In Parents, the Court ended the practice of allowing schools to use race in assigning students, essentially overturning Swann’s allowance of such measures in assigning students to schools.
Parents included voluntary racial desegregation plans by the public schools in Seattle and Louisville, even though neither school system was under a federal court order to desegregate. Further, Seattle had never operated under de jure segregation rules, and the Louisville schools were released from judicial supervision in 2000 after achieving unitary status. Parents means that more than 1000 school systems using race to make school assignment plans must discontinue this practice. While the plurality opinion asserted that it was faithful to Brown, Robert L. Carter, who argued Brown before the Court, disagreed. Moreover, Jack Greenberg, another member of the Brown legal team, called this comparison to Brown the Court’s resistance to school desegregation.
In light of the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal in a case that began as Belk v. Charlotte- Mecklenburg Board of Education (2002), the outcome in Parents could have been anticipated. In Belk (2000), the Court allowed a judgment of the Fourth Circuit to remain in place that terminated the judicial oversight that it upheld in Swann; this judgment permitted the use of race in assigning students to schools. The plurality in Parents ruled that voluntary racebased student assignment plans by public schools was unconstitutional. Justice Kennedy
’s concurrence left the door open for the possible future use of race-based assignments if school boards could prove that diversity is a compelling educational goal.
The Decision’s Impact
American public schools are more segregated today than they were in the late 1960s at the beginning of massive implementation of Brown. Moreover, insofar as the schools are more segregated today than at any time in the past 20 years, this trend is likely to increase unless the Supreme Court intervenes. Nevertheless, Brown has had widespread impact, both within and outside the area of education.
Outcomes for Schools
One lesson from Brown is that most efforts to secure equality in the United States sooner or later run into some form of de facto segregation that no American court is likely to strike down. The net result is that this could leave public schools segregated by social class. Yet, in the 1970s, the Court refused to require states to bring about equity in the funding of local school districts under the federal constitution (San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 1973) or to approve metropolitan school desegregation remedies (Milliken).
There was massive resistance to Brown at every level of government from its inception. After Brown, Topeka, Kansas, adopted a neighborhood school policy that produced three all Black elementary schools in a district with less than a 10% Black population. In 1979, Brown was reopened, and in 1992, the Tenth Circuit concluded that the district was still racially segregated. By 1986, only 3% of White children were enrolled in the nation’s 25 largest city school systems, and most were enrolled mainly with other White children in gifted and talented within-school programs. In America, because parents select schools based on the racial and socioeconomic composition of student bodies, they rate the schools that their children might attend as good or poor based on these characteristics.
Many, not just in the United States, consider Brown to be the greatest legal decision of the 20th century, because it promoted racial equality. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Parents, banning voluntary school desegregation plans, is likely to produce a return to neighborhood schools while increasing racial and ethnic segregation in public schools. When the Court refused to intervene in the race-based school assignments case from the Fourth Circuit (Belk, 2000), racial segregation increased immediately.
Shortly after the Fourth Circuit banned race-based pupil assignments, some school boards sought alternative means of achieving racial diversity. One technique that educators used was to assign students to programs and schools based on family income. Nationwide, approximately 40 school systems with about 2.5 million students—among them Baltimore, San Francisco, Wake County (North Carolina) and Clark County (Nevada)—use “social economic status” to diversify their student bodies. Even so, this technique is not accepted by many parents.
The goal is quality education for all children. Thus, the question arises in this post-Brown era: How can the nation produce quality education for all children? The use of family income in assigning students to schools is one method, but it faces stiff resistance from many middle class parents. Further, equal funding across school districts cannot be enforced based on federal statutes (San Antonio v. Rodriguez), and efforts to use the equal protection clauses of the states’ constitutions over the past 40 years have not yielded good results. Judicial restraint limits the courts in enforcing constitutional statutes, and even if a court determines that violations have occurred, remedies are limited.
Other Educational Remedies
In light of Parents, it remains to be seen what the options are for improving educational opportunities for minority children. Equal funding across school systems within states does not appear to be a viable option in federal or state courts. The remaining viable option is to seek equal funding within each individual school district (Hobson v. Hansen
, 1967). Other options include school choice plans, magnet schools, Charter Schools
, vouchers, and gifted programs—all of which began as a part of President Richard Nixon’s southern strategy to get around Brown—will be less favored under a return to favoring neighborhood schools. Further, Milliken forces educators to conclude that the desegregation of large urban school districts with largely minority school populations cannot be changed without a change in residential patterns. Yet, Milliken prohibits the federal courts from merging city and suburban school systems.
Brown began a serious debate about Equal Educational Opportunities
for racial and ethnic minorities that may not have achieved its level of intensity if Brown had not existed. This debate also helped this country move forward in the area of race relations. Brown was the primary motivating force for the passage of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment to the Constitution in 1964, which outlawed the poll tax and literacy tests for voting. The Civil Rights Act of 1964
was designed to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment
, which was enacted in 1868. The 1964 Civil Rights Act also attacked segregation in public accommodations, employment, and education. Shortly thereafter, Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act in 1968. Without Brown, social justice in the United States of America would be decades behind where it is today.
The late Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell maintained that busing to achieve school integration was wrong, because it would never achieve its goal. Instead, he believed that some Whites would stay out of city schools rather than submit to busing, while others would place their children in private schools or move to the suburbs. Unfortunately, Justice Powell’s knowledge of his fellow citizens nationwide proved true as reflected in the phenomenon of White flight, whereby Whites left the inner cities for the suburbs (Coons & Sugarman, 1979; Pereira, 2007). However, the history and experience of Brown should give the nation a better future. Finally, Brown is of paramount importance, because in ending racial segregation in education, it paved the way for the end of segregation in many other areas of public life.
See also Bolling v. Sharpe
; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
; Dowell v. Board of Education of Oklahoma City Public Schools
; Equal Protection Analysis
; Freeman v. Pitts
; Green v. County School Board of New Kent County
; Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County
; Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, Colorado
; McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
; Milliken v. Bradley
; Missouri v. Jenkins
; Pasadena City Board of Education v. Spangler; Plessy v. Ferguson; Segregation, De Facto; Segregation, De Jure; Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education; Sweatt v. Painter; White Flight Further Readings
- Berman, D. M. (1966). It is so ordered: The Supreme Court rules on school segregation. New York: Norton.
- Brown, F. (2004a). The first serious implementation of Brown: The 1964 Civil Rights Act and beyond. Journal of Negro Education, 7(3), 182–190.
- Brown, F. (2004b). Nixon’s “southern strategy” and forces against Brown. Journal of Negro Education, 73(3), 191–208.
- Clotfelter, C. T. (2001). Are Whites still fleeing? Racial patterns and enrollment shifts in urban public schools, 1987–1996. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 20(2), 199–221.
- Coons, J. E., & Sugarman, S. D. (1979). Education by choice: The case for family control. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Davis, A. L., & Graham, B. L. (1995). The Supreme Court, race and civil rights. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Davis, M. D., & Clark, H. R. (1994). Thurgood Marshall: Warrior at the bar, rebel on the bench. New York: Citadel Press.
- Flemming, A. S. (1976). Fulfilling the letter and spirit of the law: Desegregation of the nation’s public schools. Washington, DC: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
- Flemming, A. S. (1974). Milliken v. Bradley: The implications for metropolitan desegregation: Conference Before the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Washington, DC: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
- Harris, J. J., Russo, C. J., & Brown, F. (1997). The curious case of Missouri v. Jenkins: The end of the road for court-ordered desegregation? Journal of Negro Education, 66(1), 43–55.
- Kluger, R. (1975). Simple justice. New York: Vintage Books.
- Motley, C. B. (1998). Equal justice under law. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
- Ogletree, C. J., Jr. (2004). All deliberate speed: Reflections on the first half century of Brown v. Board of Education. New York: Norton.
- Orfield, G., & Lee, C. (2004). Brown at 50: King’s dream or Plessy’s nightmare? The Civil Rights Project, Harvard University.
- Russo, C. J. (2004). Brown v. Board of Education at 50: one step forward, half a step backward? The Journal of Negro Education, 73(3), 174–181.
- Russo, C. J., Harris, J. J., & Sandidge, R. (1994). Brown v. Board of Education at 40: A legal history of Equal Educational Opportunities in American public education. Journal of Negro Education, 63(3), 297–309.
- Russo, C. J., & Rossow, L. F. (1990). Missouri v. Jenkins: The desegregation battle continues. Education Law Reporter, 62(2), 399–407.
- Russo, C. J., & Rossow, L. F. (1995). Missouri v. Jenkins redux: The end of the road for school desegregation or another stop on an endless journey? Education Law Reporter, 103(1), 1–12.
- Thro, W. E. (2005). The American paradox: How constitutional values inhibit the achievement of quality education. In C. J. Russo, J. Beckmann, & J. D. Jansen, Equal Educational Opportunities: Brown v. Board of Education at 50 and democratic South Africa at 10 (pp. 137–146). Pretoria, South Africa: Van Schaik.
- Belk v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 233 F.3d 232 (4th Cir. 2000), reh’g en banc, 269 F.3d 305 (4th Cir.2001a), reconsideration denied sub nom. Belk v. Capacchione, 274 F.3d 814 (4th Cir. Dec 14, 2001b), cert. denied, sub nom. Capacchione v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 535 U.S. 986 (2002).
- Board of Education of the Oklahoma City Public Schools v. Dowell, 498 U.S. 237 (1991), on remand, 778 F. Supp. 1144 (W.D. Okla. 1991), aff’d, 8 F.3d 1501 (10th Cir. 1993).
- Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497 (1954).
- Briggs v. Elliot, Members of the Board of Trustees of School District No. 22, Clarendon County, 103 F. Supp. 920 (D.S.C.1952).
- Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), 349 U.S. 294 (1955).
- Columbus Board of Education v. Penick, 443 U.S. 449 (1979).
- Crawford v. Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles, 458 U.S. 527 (1982).
- Dayton Board of Education v. Brinkman II, 443 U.S. 526 (1979).
- Freeman v. Pitts, 503 U.S. 467 (1992), on remand, 979 F.2d 1472 (11th Cir. 1992), on remand sub nom. Mills v. Freeman, 942 F. Supp. 1449 (N.D. Ga. 1996), appeal after remand, 118 F.3d 727 (11th Cir. 1997).
- Goss v. Board of Education of the City of Knoxville, 373 U.S. 683 (1963).
- Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, 391 U.S. 430 (1968).
- Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, 377 U.S. 218 (1964).
- Hobson v. Hansen, 269 F. Supp. 401 (1967).
- Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, Colorado, 418 U.S. 717 (1973).
- McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637 (1950).
- McNeese v. Board of Education, Community Unit School District 187, 373 U.S. 668 (1963).
- Milliken v. Bradley, 418 U.S. 717 (1974), 433 U.S. 267 (1977).
- Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337 (1938).
- Missouri v. Jenkins, 495 U.S. 33 (1990), on subsequent appeal, sub nom. Jenkins by Agyei v. State of Missouri, 949 F.2d 1052 (8th Cir. 1991), 515 U.S. 70 (1995), appeal after remand, 103 F.3d 731 (8th Cir. 1997), reh’g and suggestion for reh’g en banc denied.
- Monroe v. Board of Commissioners of the City of Jackson, 391 U.S. 450 (1968).
- Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No.1, 127 S. Ct. 2738 (2007).
- Pasadena City Board of Education v. Spangler, 427 U.S. 424 (1976).
- Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).
- Raney v. Board of Education of the Gould School District, 391 U.S. 443 (1968).
- Rogers v. Paul, 382 U.S. 198 (1965).
- San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 1 (1973).
- Sipuel v. University of Oklahoma, 332 U.S. 631 (1948).
- Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1 (1971).
- Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629 (1950).
- United States v. Scotland Neck City Board of Education, 407 U.S. 484 (1972).
- Washington v. Seattle School District No. 1, 458 U.S. 457 (1982).
- Wright v. Council of the City of Emporia, 407 U.S. 451 (1972).