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Brown v. Board of Education

Biographies of Attorneys and Litigants: Brown v. Board of Education

BROWN ET AL. v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF TOPEKA ET AL.

Linda Brown
Linda Brown, who was born in 1943, became a part of civil rights history as a third grader in the public schools of Topeka, KS. When Linda was denied admission into a white elementary school, Linda's father, Oliver Brown, challenged Kansas's school segregation laws in the Supreme Court. The NAACP and Thurgood Marshall took up their case, along with similar ones in South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware, as Brown v. Board of Education.

Oliver L. Brown
Oliver Brown, a minister in his local Topeka, KS, community, challenged Kansas's school segregation laws in the Supreme Court. Mr. Brown’s 8-year-old daughter, Linda, was a black girl attending fifth grade in the public schools in Topeka when she was denied admission into a white elementary school. The NAACP and Thurgood Marshall took up Brown’s case along with similar cases in South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware as Brown v. Board of Education. Mr. Brown died in 1961.

Robert L. Carter
Born in 1917, Robert Carter, who served as an attorney for the plaintiffs in Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al., was of particular significance to the Brown v. Board of Education case because of his role in the Briggs case. Carter secured the pivotal involvement of social scientists, particularly Kenneth B. Clark, who provided evidence in the Briggs case on segregation's devastating effects on the psyches of black children.

Harold R. Fatzer
As Attorney General of Kansas, Harold Fatzer argued the case for the appellees (Kansas) in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Mr. Fatzer served as Kansas Supreme Court Justice from February, 1949, to March, 1956.

Jack Greenberg
Jack Greenberg, who was born in 1924, argued on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case, and worked on the briefs in Belton v. Gebhart. Jack Greenberg served as director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1961 to 1984.

Thurgood Marshall
Born in 1908, Thurgood Marshall served as lead attorney for the plaintiffs in Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al. From 1930 to 1933, Marshall attended Howard University Law School and came under the immediate influence of the school’s new dean, Charles Hamilton Houston. Marshall, who also served as lead counsel in the Brown v. Board of Education case, went on to become the first African American Supreme Court Justice in U.S. history. Justice Marshall died in 1993.

Frank Daniel Reeves
Frank D. Reeves, who was born in 1916, served as an attorney for the plaintiffs in the Brown v. Board decisions of 1954, and 1955 (Brown II). Mr. Reeves was the first African American appointed to the District of Columbia Board of Commissioners, although he declined the position. Frank Reeves died in 1973.

Charles Scott
Topeka, KS based lawyer who initially began the Brown case on behalf of Oliver Brown and the other litigants.

John Scott
Topeka, KS based lawyer who initially began the Brown case on behalf of Oliver Brown and the other litigants.

Earl Warren
Chief Justice Earl Warren, who was born in 1891, secured a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing segregation in public schools and striking down the "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. Warren also delivered the opinion in the District of Columbia case, Bolling v. Sharpe. Justice Warren died in 1974.

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BRIGGS ET AL. v. ELLIOTT ET AL., MEMBERS OF BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF SCHOOL DISTRICT #22

Harold R. Boulware
Harold Boulware was born in 1913. In 1941 Harold Boulware became the chief counsel for the South Carolina NAACP and led the effort to gain equal pay for equal work for African American teachers. He gained fame as one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs, along with Thurgood Marshall, in the Clarendon County Schools desegregation case, Briggs et al. v. Elliot et al. Boulware also worked on the briefs in the Belton v. Gebhart case. Mr. Boulware died in 1983.

Harry Briggs
Harry Briggs and 19 other adults filed suit on behalf of 46 Negro children, against R. W. Elliott, Chairman of the Clarendon County School Board of South Carolina, in the case Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al. Briggs, who was born in 1913, was a father to three of the children named in the suit, two boys and a girl, as well as legal guardian of a third boy. Mr. Briggs died in 1986.

Robert L. Carter
Born in 1917, Robert Carter, who served as an attorney for the plaintiffs in Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al., was of particular significance to the Brown v. Board of Education case because of his role in the Briggs case. Carter secured the pivotal involvement of social scientists, particularly Kenneth B. Clark, who provided evidence in the Briggs case on segregation's devastating effects on the psyches of black children.

Kenneth B. Clark
Kenneth Clark, who was born in 1914, provided expert social science testimony on behalf of the plaintiffs, illustrating the harmful psychological effects of segregation upon Negro schoolchildren, in the Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al. trial. At the time, Clark was Assistant Professor of psychology at the New York City College and Associate Director of the North Side School for Child Development in New York City. The U.S. Supreme Court cited Clark’s influential research on the harmful effects of segregation in their decision on Brown v. Board of Education.

John W. Davis
John W. Davis, who was born in 1872, was a democratic candidate for president in 1924, and former Solicitor General of the United States and ambassador to Great Britain, served as lead counsel for the state of South Carolina in Briggs v. Elliott.

Joseph Armstrong DeLaine
Born in 1898, Reverend J.A. DeLaine, minister and school principal, inspired some of his Summerton, SC, neighbors to petition the Clarendon County school system in November, 1949, to provide buses for black students, just as they did for white students. When their efforts were met with resistance, the state NAACP stepped in and agreed to sponsor a case that would go beyond transportation and ask for equal educational opportunities in Clarendon County. Harry and Eliza Briggs, the first two signers, lent their names to the case that came to be known as Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al. Mr. Delanie died in 1974.

R. W. Elliott
R. W. Elliott, as Chairman of the Clarendon County, SC, Board of Trustees of Summerton High School, was named as the lead defendant in the case Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al. Six other members of the board were also named as defendants in the suit.

Thurgood Marshall
Born in 1908, Thurgood Marshall served as lead attorney for the plaintiffs in Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al. From 1930 to 1933, Marshall attended Howard University Law School and came under the immediate influence of the school’s new dean, Charles Hamilton Houston. Marshall, who also served as lead counsel in the Brown v. Board of Education case, went on to become the first African American Supreme Court Justice in U.S. history. Justice Marshall died in 1993.

Robert McCormick Figg, Jr.
Born in 1901, Robert McCormick Figg, Jr., was the South Carolina attorney, politician, and legal educator who represented the Clarendon County, SC, school board in Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al. Mr. Figg, Jr., died in 1991.

Spottswood William Robinson, III
Spottswood W. Robinson, III, who was born in 1916, taught law at Howard University, in Washington, DC, and eventually became dean of the school. He made his mark on the history of Brown v. Board of Education along with his legal partner, Oliver W. Hill, by trying and winning the case Davis et al. v. Prince Edward County School Board, Virginia, et al. Spottswood Robinson III died in 1998.

Julius Waties Waring
Judge Waring, as the lone dissenter in the court’s ruling in the Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al. case, alluded to the plaintiffs’ social science testimony regarding the harmful psychological effects of segregation upon black and white children. His dissent would foreshadow the eventual success of Brown v. Board of Education in overturning the Plessy decision based on the argument that “separate but equal” is inherently unequal. Judge Waring was born in 1880 and died in 1968.

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DAVIS ET AL. v. COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD OF PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, VIRGINIA ET AL.

Robert L. Carter
Born in 1917, Robert Carter, who served as an attorney for the plaintiffs in Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al., was of particular significance to the Brown v. Board of Education case because of his role in the Briggs case. Carter secured the pivotal involvement of social scientists, particularly Kenneth B. Clark, who provided evidence in the Briggs case on segregation's devastating effects on the psyches of black children.

Dorothy E. Davis
On May 23, 1951, a NAACP lawyer filed suit in the federal district court in Richmond, VA, on behalf of 117 Moton High School, Prince Edward County, VA, students and their parents. The first plaintiff listed was Dorothy Davis, a 14-year old ninth grader; the case was titled Dorothy E. Davis, et al. v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia, et. al. It asked that the state law requiring segregated schools in Virginia be struck down.

John Davis
John Davis, who was born in 1912, filed suit against the County School Board of Prince Edward County, VA, on behalf of his daughters Dorothy, Bertha, and Inez Davis, who were denied access to their local “whites only” school, in the case Davis et al. v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia, et al.

Oliver White Hill
Born in 1907, Oliver Hill served as one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs on the case Davis et al. v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia, et al. Hill’s most famous case, Davis v. Prince Edward County, Virginia, became part of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Barbara Rose Johns
On May 23, 1951, a NAACP lawyer, on behalf of 117 Moton High School, Prince Edward County, VA, students and their parents, filed suit in the Federal District court in Richmond, VA. The suit began, however, as a result of a student strike organized and led by 16 year-old Barbara Rose Johns, in an attempt to force the county to provide facilities equal to those provided to white high school students as required by law. Their case eventually became one of five included in the landmark 1954 case, Brown v. Board of Education.

Spottswood William Robinson, III
Spottswood W. Robinson, III, who was born in 1916, taught law at Howard University, in Washington, DC, and eventually became dean of the school. He made his mark on the history of Brown v. Board of Education along with his legal partner, Oliver W. Hill, by trying and winning the case Davis et al. v. Prince Edward County School Board, Virginia, et al. Spottswood Robinson III died in 1998.

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BOLLING ET AL. v. SHARPE ET AL.

Sarah Bolling
Sarah Bolling and 2 other adults filed suit, on behalf of 5 Negro children, against C. Melvin Sharpe and 13 others, including members of the Board of Education of the District of Columbia, the Superintendent of Schools, and the Principal of Sousa Junior High School, for denial of admission of the minor plaintiffs to Sousa Junior High School solely because on their race or color.

Spottswood Thomas Bolling
In 1951 the case of Bolling et al. v. Sharpe et al. was filed in U.S. District Court, in Washington, DC. This case was named for Spottswood Bolling, the minor-aged son of Sarah Bolling. Spottswood was born in 1939. Ms. Bolling brought suit in her son’s name in the Bolling case, which addressed segregation at the Junior High School level within the District of Columbia. Although Bolling is historically considered one of the Brown v. Board of Education bundle cases, it was a different case due to the legal arguments. The plaintiffs could not argue this case on the basis of a violation of their citizenship rights to equal protection and due process, as in the other cases, because the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was not applicable in the District of Columbia. The U.S. Supreme Court rendered a separate opinion on Bolling et al. v. Sharpe et al., which was argued as a Fifth Amendment case.

Gardner Bishop
On September 11, 1950 Gardner Bishop, a minister and community leader, led a group of eleven African American children to Washington, DC’s new high school for white students, John Philip Sousa Junior High School. Bishop had been organizing parents to take action regarding the poor quality of the school their children were assigned to attend. He approached attorney Charles H. Houston on their behalf, the attorney who eventually represented Bishop, the parents, and their children in the DC segregation case, Bolling et al. v. Sharpe et al.

George Edward Chalmers Hayes
George E. C. Hayes argued the cause for petitioners in Bolling v. Sharpe. Mr. Hayes was born in 1894 and died in 1968.

Charles Hamilton Houston
Born in 1895, Charles Houston was the first African American editor of the Harvard Law Review, dean of Howard University Law School, chief counsel to the NAACP, and the first African American lawyer to win a case before the Supreme Court. Houston launched a number of precedent-setting cases that targeted segregated education as the key to undermining the entire Jim Crow system, focussed first on segregation in the graduate and professional schools of state universities. Houston provided legal representation for the Consolidated Parents Group in the case Bolling v. Sharpe until serious illness necessitated that he be relieved by James Nabrit, Jr., a colleague from Howard University. Mr. Houston died in 1950.

Milton Korman
Milton Korman served as Assistant Corporation Counsel for Washington, DC, and Chief Counsel for the District Board of Education in the case, Bolling v. Sharpe. Mr. Korman argued the case for the respondents.

James Madison Nabrit, Jr.
In late 1949 a group of Anacostia, DC, neighborhood parents, the Consolidated Parents Group, joined with James Nabrit, Howard University professor of law, secretary of the University, and future president of the University, to legally challenge the separate but equal doctrine in the case of Bolling et al. v. Sharpe et al. Mr. Nabrit, Jr., was born in 1900 and died in 1997.

C. Melvin Sharpe
C. Melvin Sharpe, acting as President of the Board of Education of the District of Columbia, from 1948 to 1957, was named as the lead defendant in the case Bolling et al. v. Sharpe et al.

Earl Warren
Chief Justice Earl Warren, who was born in 1891, secured a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing segregation in public schools and striking down the "separate but equal" doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. Warren also delivered the opinion in the District of Columbia case, Bolling v. Sharpe. Justice Warren died in 1974.

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BELTON et al. v. GEBHART et al. & BULAH et al. v. GEBHART et al.

Ethel Louise Belton
Ethel Belton and 6 other adults filed suit on behalf of 8 Negro children against Francis B. Gebhart and 12 others (both individuals and state education agencies) in the case Belton et al. v. Gebhart et al. The plaintiffs sued the state for denying to the children admission to certain public schools because of color or ancestry. The Belton case was joined with another very similar Delaware case, Bulah et al. v. Gebhart et al., and both would ultimately join four other NAACP cases in the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Ms. Belton was born in 1937 and died in 1981.

Harold R. Boulware
Harold Boulware was born in 1913. In 1941 Harold Boulware became the Chief Counsel for the South Carolina NAACP and led the effort to gain equal pay for equal work for African American teachers. He gained fame as one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs, along with Thurgood Marshall, in the Clarendon County Schools desegregation case, Briggs et al. v. Elliot et al. Boulware also worked on the briefs in the Belton v. Gebhart case. Mr. Boulware died in 1983.

Sarah Bulah
Sarah Bulah, who was born in 1947, filed suit on behalf of her daughter, Shirley Barbara Bulah, against Francis B. Gebhart and 12 others (both individuals and state education agencies) for denying Sarah and the other named plaintiffs admission to certain public schools because of color or ancestry, in the case Bulah et al. v. Gebhart et al. The Bulah case was joined with another very similar Delaware case, Belton et al. v. Gebhart et al., and both would ultimately join four other NAACP cases in the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

Robert L. Carter
Born in 1917, Robert Carter, who served as an attorney for the plaintiffs in Briggs et al. v. Elliott et al., was of particular significance to the Brown v. Board of Education case because of his role in the Briggs case. Carter secured the pivotal involvement of social scientists, particularly Kenneth B. Clark, who provided evidence in the Briggs case on segregation's devastating effects on the psyches of black children.

Francis B. Gebhart
Francis Gebhart, as a member of the State Board of Education of the State of Delaware, was named as the lead defendant in both segregation cases, Bulah et al. v. Gebhart et al., and Belton et al. v. Gebhart et al.

Jack Greenberg
Jack Greenberg, who was born in 1924, argued on behalf of the plaintiffs in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case, and worked on the briefs in Belton v. Gebhart. Jack Greenberg served as director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1961 to 1984.

Oliver White Hill
Born in 1907, Oliver Hill served as one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiffs on the case Davis et al. v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia, et al. Hill’s most famous case, Davis v. Prince Edward County, Virginia, became part of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.

Louis Lorenzo Redding
Louis L. Redding, who was born in 1901, became Delaware’s first African American attorney in 1929. Redding argued the cause for respondents in Gebhart v. Belton. Louis Redding died in 1999.

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