When Thurgood Marshall launched the full-scale attack on segregation, the United States was very different from today. For some white Americans, changes in attitudes about race followed dramatic events in American society—the Depression, World War II, the integration of major league baseball by Jackie Robinson in 1947, and the desegregation of the armed forces in 1948. But deeply rooted feelings of white superiority continued to guide daily life.
In five different communities, African Americans from various walks of life bravely turned to the courts to demand better educational opportunities for their children. Together with the NAACP, these communities attempted nothing less than the destruction of segregation in the United States and the transformation of American society.