More Than 50 Years of Integrated Public Schools

Racial segregation was the unchallenged norm in American public schools until May 17, 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education declaring that separate educational facilities for black and white children are inherently unequal. The case was initiated in Topeka, Kansas, where Oliver Brown and several other parents filed a suit against the local board of education on behalf of their children, many of whom were forced to travel long distances to school. Their case was consolidated with other, similar ones and argued before the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., by Thurgood Marshall, who later became the Court’s first African-American justice.

This stamp appeared on the To Form a More Perfect Union pane, which was issued in 2005 and recognized the courage and achievement of the men and women who, during the years of the civil rights movement, struggled to bring the vision of our nation’s founders closer to reality. The stamp art is a detail from “The Lamp” by Romare Bearden. In 1984, the NAACP selected the lithograph to be on a poster celebrating the 30th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.