A Brief History of School Desegregation

1896: In Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court establishes the doctrine of "separate but equal," helping to promote segregationist laws and policies.

1948: In Sipuel v. Board of Regents, the Supreme Court orders the University of Oklahoma to admit an African-American law student because the state does not provide a separate law school for African-Americans.

1950: In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, the Supreme Court rules that it is unconstitutional for an African-American student to be physically segregated from other students because of his race.

1950: In Sweatt v. Painter, the Supreme Court rules that Texas' newly established law school for African-Americans does not provide separate-but-equal facilities, so it cannot deny the petitioner the right to attend the UT Law School.

1954: The Supreme Court reverses its doctrine of separate but equal established in Plessy v. Ferguson. In Brown v. Board of Education the court holds that state laws mandating or permitting segregation are unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed. This legislation includes Title VI, which prohibits institutions receiving public funds from discriminating on the basis of "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin," and Title VII, which provides for the establishment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

1971: In Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, the Supreme Court authorizes North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District to use busing to desegregate its public schools.

1978: In Bakke v. Regents of the University of California, the Supreme Court rules that the UC-Davis medical school's special admissions program is unlawful. The court rules that schools can use race as an admissions factor, but bars the use of quotas.

1994: In Hopwood v. State of Texas, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas holds that the admissions policy of the UT School of Law established an unlawful quota system.

1996: The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit holds that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment does not permit an institution to establish preferential, race-based admissions policies, and that the UT Law School may no longer consider race in its admissions decisions.

2003: In Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court rules that the University of Michigan Law School can use race as an admissions factor.

Source: Encyclopedia of Education, Second Edition

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