Did you know that Dolls played a pivotal part in the US Supreme Court decision to legally end segregation in Public Schools in the Brown V. Board of Education case?
It was in the 1950’s school segregation was mandated by law in 17 states. At the time Thurgood Marshall was Chief Counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). It was a 55 year old separate but equal doctrine decreed. The NAACP had to work to convince the US Supreme Court that segregation in and of itself was unconstitutional to make their case, that’s when Attorney Marshall and his team of lawyers needed to provide proof to demonstrate that equal educational opportunities for Blacks (African Americans) was impossible to achieve in a segregated system.
Attorney Marshall sought out to find the outstanding couple who both held doctorates in Psychology Mr. Kenneth and Mrs. Mamie Clark to repeat their experiment they had done with the School Children from Clarendon County, South Carolina in New York City in the 1930’s. The Clarks were conducting a study on the effect of segregation of Black Children in their preparation for the Briggs V. Elliott Case. This was the first of five cases argued that would come before the Supreme Court.
The Oliver Brown V. Board of Education was a developed Systematic Attack by the NAACP and its Legal Defense and Educational Fund which culminated in five separate cases from a campaign started at the graduate and professional education levels from African Americans of Topeka Kansas.
“In the Experiment, the Clarks handed black children four dolls. The dolls were identical except that two had a dark-colored skin and two had light-colored skin. The Clarks asked the children questions such as which dolls were “nice” and which were “bad” and which doll is most like you.
The results of the test showed that the majority of black children preferred the white dolls to the black dolls, the children saying the black dolls were “bad” and that the white dolls looked most like them. To the Clarks, these test provided solid proof that enforced segregation stamped on African American Children with a badge of inferiority that would last the rest of their lives. The argument swayed the US Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, in writing the Court’s Opinion, noted that the legal separation of black children gave them ‘ A feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone…’
The Supreme Court announced its unanimous decision on May 17, 1954. It held that School Segregation Violated the Equal Protection and Due Process of the Fourteenth Amendment. The following year the Court ordered desegregation “with all deliberate speed.”
Gordon Parks 1912 – 2006
Was a prominent U.S. Documentary, Photo Journalist , who was a humanitarian with a deep commitment to social justice. His focus was race relations, poverty, civil rights and urban life.