The Impact of Brown


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The Impact of Brown on Mexican American Desegregation Litigation, 1950s to 1980s Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr. History Department University of Houston, Texas The Brown v. Board of Education (1954, 1955) decision of the 1950s had no appre- ciable impact on ongoing Mexican American desegregation litigation during the 1st decade of its implementation. In the long run, however, it led to a shift in the commu- nity’s litigation strategy for achieving equality of opportunity in the United States and for improving academic achievement in Latino schools. Because of Brown ,Mex- ican American civil rights lawyers abandoned the “other White” legal strategy that had been used for decades in their struggle against discrimination. In turn, they em- braced the equal protection strategy and gained legal protection as an “identifiable ethnic minority group.” This introduced them to the national desegregation struggle as meaningful actors until they decided to abandon this strategy and focus on gaining equality under the banner of bilingual education. The Brown v. Board of Education rulings of 1954 and 1955 were historic decisions. The former outlawed racial discrimination in the public schools; the latter urged states to dismantle segregation with all deliberate speed. Fierce opposition by White leaders, timid actions by federal court officials responsible for desegrega- tion, and failure by the Supreme Court to intervene on behalf of desegregation forces ensured that no significant school integration would take place in the first decade of implementation. Significant desegregation, however, occurred in the lat- ter part of the 1960s and in the 1970s (Wilkinson, III, 1979, p. 78). The Brown rulings had a significant impact on the organizational activities of all major groups involved in the process—National Association for the Advance- ment of Colored People (NAACP) lawyers, African American and White parents, southern school officials, federal judges, and elected officials. For the past several JOURNAL OF LATINOS AND EDUCATION, 4 (4), 221–236 Copyright © 2005, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Requests for reprints should be sent to Guadalupe San Miguel, Jr., University of Houston, Depart- ment of History, 524 Agnes Arnold Hall, Houston TX 77204–3003. E-mail: [email protected]
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decades, historians, social scientists, and a variety of other scholars have traced the fascinating history of the Brown decision and its implementation in the United States, Little, however, is known about the ruling’s impact on Mexican American education in general and on Mexican American litigation strategies in particular. The following article is an attempt to provide an initial answer to this concern and to show how this decision impacted Mexican Americans. THE
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This note was uploaded on 10/23/2011 for the course SOC 10 taught by Professor Dunn during the Spring '10 term at UC Riverside.

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