33¢ Desegregating Public Schools
Celebrate the Century – 1950s
Issue Date: May 26, 1999
City: Springfield, MA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed, engraved
In 1951, Oliver Brown took the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education to court for refusing his daughter, Linda, admission to an all-white school. Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first black justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, presented Brown’s case.
When Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka reached the Supreme Court in 1954, it concluded that “in the field of public opinion, the doctrine of separate but equal has no place. Separated educational facilities are inherently unequal.” With these words, the Court outlawed racial segregation.
Opposition to Brown was fierce. Many white southern Congress members signed the “Southern Manifesto,” condemning the case and declaring the states had the right to ignore it. To avoid desegregation, some officials closed their local public schools.
Three years after the court’s decision, not one southern child attended a desegregated school. That changed in September 1957, when Little Rock’s Central High School was forced to allow nine black students to attend classes there. Governor Orval Faubus prevented their admission for over three weeks. After much tension and unrest, the students were escorted into the school by National Guard units on September 25.