Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
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Introduction to Civil Rights - The 50's

Introduction to Civil Rights - The 50's
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     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.62

     challenging words:    ruling, switchyard, worsen, restrooms, versus, theaters, unconstitutional, refused, civil, endure, tested, enroll, segregation, based, prove, public
     content words:    United States, Supreme Court, Whites Only, Blacks Only, Linda Brown, National Association, Colored People, United States Supreme Court, Rosa Parks, Montgomery Improvement Association

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Introduction to Civil Rights - The 50's
By Jane Runyon

1     People in the United States followed the 1896 Supreme Court ruling of "separate but equal" facilities for over sixty years. Restaurants, restrooms, schools, even drinking fountains were designated for the use of "Whites Only" or "Blacks Only." This concept started to be tested again in the 1950's. The disagreements over this idea all started to boil over with the story of one little girl in Kansas.
2     Linda Brown was a third grader in Topeka, Kansas. The year was 1951. The schools in Topeka were segregated. In other words, there were schools for the black children and separate schools for the white children. The shortest way for Linda to reach her school was to walk over a mile through a railroad switchyard. What made this daily trip even harder for Linda to endure was the fact that there was a perfectly good elementary school just seven blocks from her home. The problem was that this school was for white children and Linda was black. Linda's father tried to enroll her in the school closer to her home, but he was told he couldn't.
3     Members of a group called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had been fighting what they considered the unfairness of separate schools for many years. Linda's story seemed to them to be the perfect case for them to use to prove their point. They took their case to the United States Supreme Court, the same court which had made the "separate but equal" decision in 1896. The process was slow. It wasn't until May of 1954 that the court reached a decision. That decision was based on whether or not they thought that black children were being deprived of an equal education by having segregated schools. In the court's opinion, they were being deprived. It struck down the "separate but equal" decision and ruled that schools throughout the United States should be integrated. This ruling applied only to schools. Other facilities such as restaurants and theaters remained separated.

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