Review of Brown v. Board of Education: A Fight for Simple Justice

rubin_brown-v-board-of-educationBrown v. Board of Education: A Fight for Simple Justice
by Susan Goldman Rubin
Intermediate, Middle School    Holiday    132 pp.
10/16    978-0-8234-3646-0    $18.95    g
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-3708-5    $18.95

In 1950, Thurgood Marshall was a young African American lawyer determined to “wipe out…all phases of segregation in education from professional school to kindergarten.” He and other lawyers of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund sought to overturn the doctrine of “separate but equal” established by the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision, which made segregation a way of life in the United States, especially in the South. Not only were black schools unequal in their facilities, but, Marshall was convinced, segregated schools had a detrimental psychological effect on black children. He set about gathering legal cases he could take to the Supreme Court in order to argue that school segregation violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Rubin meticulously describes each of the five cases — from three states and the District of Columbia — that were combined as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Rubin succeeds in presenting complicated legal history in an accessible manner for young readers. In addition, she skillfully builds on the inherent drama of the events, as Marshall and his fellow lawyers work tirelessly to present the best possible arguments for each case, then wait on tenterhooks for the decision; and again as she takes us through the nine Supreme Court justices’ thought processes. The writing is clear and straightforward, though the supporting black-and-white photographs don’t always effectively contrast the unequal facilities in black and white schools. Back matter includes a useful summary of the legal cases and the text of the Fourteenth Amendment; also appended with a detailed timeline, source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider
Dean Schneider teaches seventh and eighth grades at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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