Brown at 50

Essay — Volume 90, Issue 6

90 Va. L. Rev. 1613
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This Essay, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, canvasses three issues: (1) why Brown was a hard case for the justices; (2) how the justices were able to overcome their legal doubts about invalidating school segregation to achieve a unanimous decision invalidating that practice; (3) and the consequences of Brown. With regard to the last point, the essay summarizes an argument developed at greater length in my book From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality, asserting that Brown radicalized political opinion in the South, thus creating a climate ripe for violence. When the brutalization of peaceful black protestors by white law enforcement officers was broadcast on national television, it helped transform national opinion on race, leading directly to the enactment of landmark civil rights legislation.

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  Volume 90 / Issue 6  

What Brown Teaches Us About Constitutional Theory

By Jack M. Balkin
90 Va. L. Rev. 1537

The Road Not Taken in Brown: Recognizing the Dual Harm of Segregation

By Kevin Brown
90 Va. L. Rev. 1579

Time, Change, and the Constitution

By John Harrison
90 Va. L. Rev. 1601

Brown at 50

By Michael J. Klarman
90 Va. L. Rev. 1613