April 7, 1991
"Separate But Equal," ABC's two-part miniseries about th Supreme Court's landmark school desegregation decision, is itself almost landmark television in two respects. One is the performance of Sidney Poitier as Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP lawyer and future Supreme Court justice who argued one of the cases that became known as Brown vs. Board of Education. Poitier's acting style may be too big-screen rococo for some television tastes. But its moments of high-intensity grandeur make it one of the performances of the television year.
May 18, 1996
PRECISELY 100 YEARS LATER, the message stands forth with the clarity and majesty of self-evident truth: "In the view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law."Such were the words of the first Justice John Marshall Harlan, a Kentuckian by birth and a former slave-owner.
March 26, 2009
JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN, 94 Historian of African-American experiences Duke University professor John Hope Franklin, a historian of life in the South and the African-American experience, died Wednesday in Durham, N.C. Dr. Franklin helped Thurgood Marshall win Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case that outlawed the "separate but equal" doctrine in U.S. schools.
July 20, 2002
A PARAPLEGIC man is suing a Florida strip joint for being in violation of his civil rights because there is no wheelchair access to upstairs private rooms where he could get a "lap dance." The club owner said he could use a private room downstairs. But the plaintiff's lawyer replied that "separate but equal is not good enough." Sometimes, on controversial issues, we're conflicted as to whether this or that "constitutional right" can possibly be what the Founding Fathers intended. On this one, we're sure.
May 16, 1996
"THERE IS IN this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.''So wrote Justice John Marshall Harlan, dissenting in Plessy v. Ferguson, May 18, 1896. His famous lone dissent is what everyone always talks about, not the court's actual ruling. On that day 100 years ago the court's seven-member majority (one justice did not participate) held that while the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equality before the law for citizens of all races, it does not require blacks and white to do everything together: for example, ride in the same railway passenger car -- the case at issue in Plessy -- or attend the same public schools.
May 16, 2004
The suit Though universally known as Brown vs. Board of Education, the case was five separate suits challenging segregation - from South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the Brown case in Kansas that the Supreme Court ordered argued together. In many ways, Briggs vs. Elliott, the case filed by Thurgood Marshall from Clarendon County, South Carolina, which began when black parents sought school buses for their children, was the most representative, but Brown was listed first, so the Topeka, Kan., case has always been in the spotlight.