Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center

Segregated America
The Battleground
Legal Campaign
Five Communities Change a Nation
  • Clarendon County, SC
  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Farmville, Virginia
  • New Castle County, DE
  • Washington, DC
The Decision

Bitter Resistance: Clarendon County, South Carolina

Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al.

In the heart of the cotton belt, where white landowners and business leaders had ruled Clarendon County for generations, poor rural African Americans made a stand. They asked for a school bus for their children, and the county denied their request. Risking retaliation, they raised the stakes and demanded that their children have the right to attend white schools.

Thurgood Marshall committed the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund to help this courageous community make a direct assault on legalized public school segregation. Briggs v. Elliott was filed in the United States District Court, Charleston Division on December 22, 1950.

Briggs v. Elliott Legal Case Summary
Place: Clarendon County in rural South Carolina
Grievance: Starkly unequal, segregated schools for black and white children
Plaintiffs: Harold Briggs and 19 other parents in the county
Decision: A federal district court ruled against the plaintiffs. Their appeal reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

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