a social system with separate facilities for minority groups
In each instance, they had been denied admission to schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting
segregation according to race. This
segregation was alleged to deprive the plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws under the Fourteenth Amendment.
a belief accepted as authoritative by some group or school
In each of the cases other than the Delaware case, a three-judge federal district court denied relief to the plaintiffs on the so-called "separate but equal"
doctrine announced by this Court in Plessy v. Ferguson. Under that
doctrine, equality of treatment is accorded when the races are provided substantially equal facilities, even though these facilities be separate.
In the first cases in this Court construing the Fourteenth Amendment, decided shortly after its adoption, the Court interpreted it as
proscribing all state-imposed discriminations against the Negro race.
an attribute that must be met or complied with
there are findings below that the Negro and white schools involved have been equalized, or are being equalized, with respect to buildings, curricula,
qualifications and salaries of teachers, and other "tangible" factors.
establish after a calculation, investigation, or experiment
We must consider public education in the light of its full development and its present place in American life throughout the Nation. Only in this way can it be
determined if segregation in public schools deprives these plaintiffs of the equal protection of the laws.
the actions and activities assigned to a person or group
Today, education is perhaps the most important
function of state and local governments.
required by rule
Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society.
education or instruction in the fundamentals of a field
It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very
foundation of good citizenship.
most important element
Today it is a
principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment.
a possibility from a favorable combination of circumstances
In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the
opportunity of an education.
obtainable or accessible and ready for use or service
Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made
available to all on equal terms.
keep from having, keeping, or obtaining
Does 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?
an essential and distinguishing attribute of something
In Sweatt v. Painter, supra, in finding that a segregated law school for Negroes could not provide them equal educational opportunities, this Court relied in large part on "those
qualities which are incapable of objective measurement but which make for greatness in a law school."
incapable of being perceived by the senses, especially touch
In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, supra, the Court, in requiring that a Negro admitted to a white graduate school be treated like all other students, again resorted to
intangible considerations: ". . . his ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession."
information to be kept in mind when making a decision
considerations apply with added force to children in grade and high schools.
the state of being lesser
To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of
inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.
causing harm or injury
Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a
detrimental effect upon the colored children.
a forceful consequence; a strong effect
impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group.
psychological feature arousing action toward a desired goal
A sense of inferiority affects the
motivation of a child to learn.
the act of improving by expanding, enlarging, or refining
Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to retard the educational and mental
development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system.
mental or emotional as opposed to physical in nature
Whatever may have been the extent of
psychological knowledge at the time of Plessy v. Ferguson, this finding is amply supported by modern authority.
in an opposing direction
Any language in Plessy v. Ferguson
contrary to this finding is rejected.
in an essential manner
Separate educational facilities are
make certain of
Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws
guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
the act of refusing to comply, as with a request
We have now announced that such segregation is a
denial of the equal protection of the laws.