A lawsuit titled Brown v. Board of Education led to the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision on May 17, 1954, that schools separated by race were unconstitutional.
Brown actually combined five separate lawsuits filed throughout the country.
Linda Brown was a 7-year-old Topeka, Kan., girl who in 1950 had to walk 80 minutes to a black elementary school, even though an all-white school was much closer. She became the lead plaintiff in an NAACP class-action challenge of segregated elementary schools.
What the decision in Brown v. Board of Education says:
"Separate educational facilities are not equal and cannot be made equal" even if school buildings, curricula, teacher qualifications and salaries appear to be equal.
Blacks in segregated schools "are deprived of the equal protection of the laws" guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
"To separate (black students) ... solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority ... that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone."
"Education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments, ... (it) is a right that must be available to all on equal terms."
Source: Opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren