Clarendon County, South Carolina
Thurgood Marshall and the lawyers of the Legal Defense Fund, working with local NAACP organizers, went out looking for good cases that would get them before the Supreme Court.
One came from Clarendon County, South Carolina, where there were 47 black students per class, to 28 white, and where black schools had neither bathrooms nor electricity. Another case came from the District of Columbia, where eleven black students sued for admission to an all-white District of Columbia junior high school near their homes rather than an overcrowded black school far away. A third was from Delaware, where black children were barred from schools in the suburban Wilmington towns where they lived, and instead had to travel to the black one-room schoolhouse miles away.
1948 Briggs v. Elliott Clarendon County
This Clarendon County petition led to the Briggs v. Elliott court case, one of five cases
consolidated before the United States Supreme Court into Brown v. Board of Education
of Topeka. The petitioners argued that the separate schools for African Americans were
"inadequate and unhealthy," "overcrowded," and "dilapidated." In the landmark Brown
decision of May 17, 1954, the court ruled that "Separate educational facilities are
inherently unequal" and segregated public schools unconstitutional.
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