RCC Honors History Project

the supreme courts decisions on racism

Posted by amissi on March 22, 2009

(1) Alistair Cooke, The Civil Liberties Struggle, Manchester Guardian (7th June, 1950)

The supreme court of the United States handed down yesterday a decision on race relations as historic as anything since the famous case of Dred Scott versus Sanford, which was – among other things – one of the causes of the civil war. In its last decision of the spring term, the supreme court held that the segregation of Negro students in white universities, and of Negroes in railway dining-cars, is unconstitutional in that it denies Negroes the “equal protection of the law” due to all citizens of the United States and guaranteed to them in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which in 1868 proclaimed the citizenship of Negroes, by defining citizens as “all persons born or naturalised in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof …”

Some states have already given notice that they will defy the court’s ruling and seek a rhetorical and more acceptable interpretation of the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine. Governor Herman Talmadge of Georgia announced in Atlanta yesterday: “As long as I am your governor, Negroes will not be admitted to white schools.” In the end, Talmadge and his like will lose. But between the opening of the floodgates of new test cases and the peaceable end of segregation, the old South might well make a final and bloody stand.

(2) Supreme Court ruling on segregation in schools (17th May, 1954)

Segregation of white and coloured children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the coloured children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to retard the educational and mental development of Negro children.

 

(3) James Eastland, representative from Mississippi, speech in the United States Senate (27th May, 1954)

Separation promotes racial harmony. it permits each race to follow its own pursuits, to develop its own culture, its own institution, and its own civilization. Segregation is not discrimination. Segregation is not a badge of racial inferiority. Segregation is desired and supported by the vast majority of the members of both of the races in the South, who dwell side by side under harmonious conditions. It is the law of nature, it is the law of God, that every race has both the right and the duty to perpetuate itself. Free men have the right to send their children to schools of their own choosing, free from government interference.

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