In 1954, fifty-eight years after the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, the Supreme Court was afforded another opportunity to reverse the “separate but equal doctrine” in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Brown I). Brown I was a consolidation of five civil rights cases from the District of Columbia, Delaware, Kansas, Virginia, and South Carolina that attempted to change race relations in America by affording African Americans a piece of the pie. A few other cases soon followed Brown I. In 1963, Goss v. Board of Education of Knoxville proclaimed that any program that structurally appeared to maintain segregation would be held unconstitutional. And in 1964, Griffin v. Prince Edward County School Board announced that pretense integration of black children would also violate the Constitution. Despite the Court’s signature announcement of equality of “Negroes,” Brown I has not completely altered the inequalities of the past. For that reason, race-conscious policies instituted not only by admissions departments in colleges and universities but also in primary and secondary educational institutions are needed to level the playing field. Since Brown I, there have been a number of statutes, court cases and policies that have continued to struggle over the use of race-conscious policies in the goal for racial equality. The Author traces the development of the law and discusses the social context of race and diversity.
72 Alb. L. Rev. 863 (2009)