The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its legal offspring, the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, developed a systematic attack against the doctrine of “separate but equal.” The campaign started at the graduate and professional educational levels. The attack culminated in five separate cases gathered together under the name of one of them—Oliver Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
Aware of the gravity of the issue and concerned with the possible political and social repercussions, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case argued on three separate occasions in as many years. The Court weighed carefully considerations involving adherence to legal precedent, social-science findings on the negative effects of segregation, and the marked inferiority of the schools that African Americans were forced to attend.
The Supreme Court announced its unanimous decision on May 17, 1954. It held that school segregation violated the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The following year the Court ordered desegregation “with all deliberate speed.”
Kenneth B. Clark's “Doll Test” Notebook
During the 1940s, psychologists Kenneth Bancroft Clark and his wife, Mamie Phipps Clark designed a test to study the psychological effects of segregation on black children. In 1950 Kenneth Clark wrote a paper for the White House Mid-Century Conference on Children and Youth summarizing this research and related work that attracted the attention of Robert Carter of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Carter believed that Clark's findings could be effectively used in court to show that segregation damaged the personality development of black children. On Carter's recommendation, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund engaged Clark to provide expert social science testimony in the Briggs, Davis, and Delaware cases. Clark also co-authored a summation of the social science testimony delivered during the trials that was endorsed…