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History

The change in attitudes towards the racial question in the USA

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Why was it difficult for black Americans to gain equal rights in the USA in the 1950s and 1960s?

The struggle for equal education

The importance of the Brown v Board of Education of Topeka case, Kansas, 1954

Linda Brown sits at the back of a bus

Linda Brown (centre) sits at the back of a bus on her way to Monroe Elementary School.

Linda Brown was a seven year old black girl. She had to walk 20 blocks to school even though there was a school for white people two blocks from her home. The NAACP helped her father to bring a legal case against the education board. On 19 May 1954 the court declared that segregation was against the law and the constitution of the USA. The Board of Education of Topeka and every other education board were forced to bring segregation to an end. But many schools continued to refuse to implement this, and by 1956, in six southern states, not a single black child was attending any school where there were white children.

The importance of the Little Rock case, Arkansas, 1957

National Guard troops guarding black pupils in Little Rock, Arkansas.

National Guard troops guarding black pupils in Little Rock, Arkansas.

In September 1957, nine black pupils tried to attend a school for white children in Little Rock. The Governor of Arkansas sent National Guard soldiers to prevent the black children from entering the school. The black people brought a case against the Governor. They won and the soldiers were forced to leave. The black pupils now had the right to go to the school and President Eisenhower sent 1,000 soldiers to look after them for the rest of the year. By 1960, out of a total of 2 million black school children in the state of Arkansas, only 2,600 were going to the same school as white children.

The importance of the James Meredith case, Mississippi, 1962

James Meredith with soldiers.

James Meredith walking to class accompanied by soldiers.

James Meredith, a black man from the southern state of Mississippi, won a place at Mississippi University in September 1962. When he arrived on his first day to register, he was turned away by the Governor of Mississippi. Because of the protests and riots that happened, President Kennedy had to send in soldiers to protect James Meredith. The soldiers accompanied James to his classes throughout his course.

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