Friday, August 10, 2012

Fighting for Justice and the end of Plessy v. Ferguson

Reverend Joseph Armstrong DeLaine was a schoolteacher in Summerton, SC. He saw how the students in his school were consistently underrepresented. He requested there be a bus for black students, making it more convenient for the children to get to school, but was denied. With his standing in the school community, he hoped that he would be able to change system. Because he was denied by the school board, he bought a bus for the children at his school, spending his own money. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to keep it due to the expenses. He was stuck knowing the laws set in place discriminated against African Americans, but there seemed to be little he could do, even with his standing in the community.

In a grassroots fashion, and with DeLaine's support, Levi Pearson, a black mother whose children walked daily to the school, challenged the law in court. In 1951, the official challenge of the separate but equal court ruling was heard in Charleston, SC. The court case Briggs v. Elliot made it to the Supreme Courts but was pushed to lower courts after the hearing.  

The DeLaine's at their home after the fire.
Many people who were involved in the court cases lost their jobs or were harassed in their community due to the nature of the case. Reverend DeLaine's house was burned to the ground. Eventually in 1954 The Supreme Court would hear the case Brown v.s. Board of Education, which combined five court cases to address the issue of separate but equal; Briggs v. Elliot being one of those five. The court case was won, overthrowing the separate but equal national court ruling established by Plessy v. Ferguson. Thurgood Marshall was the attorney who successfully argued for the court case. The decision to use the Topeka Kansas Board of Education court case, was in hopes to show the nation that Rev. DeLain's case, and the discrimination against black people, was not just a southern problem. The case showed that segregation was a nation wide issue, and by official law and help from Rev. DeLaine, was made illegal.

No comments:

Post a Comment