After the decision, how quickly should schools be desegregated? How quickly were schools desegregated?
The decision in Brown v. Board of Education came in two parts. First, the justices considered whether segregation was constitutional. The Brown I
decision determined that it was not, but there still remained the
tricky question about how to end segregation. On this question, the
Court heard arguments during the following term.
In 1955, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that
segregation should be ended as soon as possible, but the Court also
recognized that it would be difficult for communities to deal with the
change and that there were many institutional, political, and social
circumstances to be worked out. The Court struggled with how to phrase
the order to desegregate schools and what kind of time frames should be
attached to the order. The NAACP advocated for schools to be
desegregated "forthwith," which implies a quick timetable. However,
Justice Warren adopted the advice of Justice Frankfurter and chose other
Read Justice Frankfurter's notes on this issue and answer the questions that follow.
On page two of the typed notes, Justice Frankfurter writes his
original recommendation for how quickly desegregation should occur. What
does he say? (This is the typed version, not the handwritten version.)
Justice Frankfurter then crosses out point 5 and changes point 6
to point 5. He also changes his recommendation for how quickly
desegregation should occur. How does he alter his recommendation? (This
is the handwritten note.)
Why do you suppose Justice Frankfurter changed his mind? Think
about what actions might be involved in desegregating schools at the
What do Justice Frankfurter's notes tell you about how Supreme Court decisions are written?
The Court's recommendation that schools should desegregate "with all
deliberate speed" had enormous consequences for the speed of
desegregation. Read a letter from Roy Wilkins to President Kennedy regarding desegregation in Prince Edward County, Virginia.
What does the letter tell you about how quickly desegregation occurred?