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Separate no more : the long road to Brown v. Board of Education
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On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy, a thirty-four-year-old shoemaker, purchased a first-class ticket on the East Louisiana Railroad for a thirty-mile journey from New Orleans to Covington, Louisiana. Although the light-skinned Plessy appeared to be nothing more than a well-spoken, well-dressed, working man, he was in fact, an "octoroon," meaning he was one-eighth black. According to an 1890 Louisiana statute, Act 111, known as the "Separate Car Law," no one with black blood could ride in railroad cars reserved for whites. Although the law stated that the separate facilities for the two races must be "equal," they never were. People of color were required to ride in the smoky, dingy, broken-down car just behind the locomotive, which became known as the "Jim Crow car."Homer Plessy had not wandered into the whites-only car by accident, nor was he unaware that he was forbidden to be there. He had entered intentionally and had been asked to do so by a group called the "Citizens' Committee to Test the Constitutionality of the Separate Car Law." The group had been founded on September 1, 1891, and consisted of doctors, lawyers, newspaper publishers, and prominent businessmen. Almost all were mixed race. Their leader, Louis Martinet, held degrees from both medical school and law school, and edited a local weekly. They had raised $30,000, a large sum of money in those days, to attempt to have the Separate Car law overturned by the United States Supreme Court.Louis Martinet and his fellows were part of the most vibrant and accomplished African American community in the South, and perhaps in the entire nation. Since the early eighteenth century, New Orleans, then under French rule, had boasted a population of educated, able free black men and sometimes women. They referred to themselves as "Black Creoles," or " gens du couleur libre (free people of color)." These men and women had prospered both before the Civil War and during Reconstruction; they had sent their children to college; they had visited Europe; some had even owned slaves of their own. The number of free black people in Louisiana -- 17,462 in 1850 -- was far greater than in any other southern state. Less than two thousand lived in neighboring Mississippi.Although considered "colored" by whites, many members of the New Orleans African American community had often married whites, and after generations, the races had intermingled. Someone half-black was called a mulatto; quarter-black, a quadroon; and one-eighth black, like Homer Plessy, an octoroon. Octoroons usually appeared so Caucasian that they could come and go in white institutions without anyone questioning their lineage.And so, after he had been shown to his seat, Plessy informed the conductor of his racial background. The conductor, who could be sent to jail for letting a person of color ride in a white car, instructed Plessy to move to the Jim Crow car. Plessy refused. He was arrested and taken to jail. Everyone involved -- the conductor, the police deputy, and Plessy himself -- had been courteous and respectful. Bail was soon posted and Plessy released... Excerpted from Separate No More: the Long Road to Brown V. Board of Education (Scholastic Focus) by Lawrence Goldstone All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
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Trade Reviews
Separate No More outlines the legal history from Plessy v. Ferguson, which formalized the policy of "separate but equal," to Brown v. Board of Education, which called for the integration of public schools. From 1896 to 1954, civil rights organizations, lawyers, and everyday citizens challenged discriminatory laws regarding education, employment, and housing throughout the US. Along the way, Goldstone, a writer, introduces readers to significant figures and cultural events that played prominently in this history. Published by Scholastic Focus, Scholastic's imprint for middle grade and young adult narrative nonfiction, the book contains structural elements that might deter educators from using such works in college classrooms. Largely writing an expository history, Goldstone does not make or summarize scholarly arguments, and sources and quotes are woven into the text without traditional citations. The bibliography contains a list of URLs for online sources without any additional bibliographic information, a practice college students should avoid. Well-written and engaging, this would be an excellent introductory legal history for readers outside higher education or for college students needing an introduction to the legal precedents for one of the most important civil rights cases of the 20th century. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and two-year students. --Dunstan McNutt, University of Tennessee Chattanooga
Booklist Review
Goldstone traces the history of school desegregation, citing significant court cases between 1896 (Plessy v. Ferguson, which affirmed segregation) and 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled segregation unconstitutional). In a thorough discussion, he touches on topics as varied as the Springfield riots (1908), the formation of the NAACP (1909), voting restriction laws, efforts to encourage African Americans to attend quality law schools, the effects of military service on expectations of equality, and the similar cases that were bundled with Brown. The author emphasizes important players in the crusade for social justice, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Moorfield Storey, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Thurgood Marshall, among others. His tone is direct, often summarizing the arguments and rulings of lawsuits, and he does not shy away from describing the violence connected with these cases, including lynching, false imprisonment, and death. Illustrated with black-and-white period photos and document reproductions, and appended with generous sources and notes, Goldstone clearly demonstrates the incremental fairness achieved, as well as recent regressions toward racial divide.
Horn Book Review
Goldstone (Unpunished Murder, rev. 9/18) takes a long view of the historic 1954 civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, starting with the "separate but equal" doctrine established in 1896 with Plessy v. Ferguson. He highlights important legal cases in between that paved the way for that doctrine to be overturned. He also provides context for the political mobilization of African Americans and factors leading up to it, including the efforts of Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois; the rise of the NAACP, its legal strategy, and the work of Thurgood Marshall. Cultural shifts included reaction against the widespread horrors of Jim Crow-era lynching; social mobility of enlisted African Americans; the race riots of the Red Summer; and Jackie Robinson's integration of baseball. Gradually, these disparate elements coalesce into a compelling climax as five separate cases wend their way to the Supreme Court. These culminating chapters are filled with suspense as various factions make it seem impossible to deliver the unanimous decision the occasion demands, but ultimately new Chief Justice Earl Warren, haunted by his role in Japanese American incarceration, builds the necessary consensus. Pair with Susan Goldman Rubin's Brown v. Board of Education (rev. 11/16), with a narrower focus on the five cases. Black-and-white photos with captions enhance the narrative, and the back matter includes a bibliography, source notes, and an index (unseen). Jonathan Hunt March/April 2021 p.112(c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Review
A comprehensive exploration of one of the most life-changing Supreme Court cases in American history. In May 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. This ruling on a landmark case--Brown v. Board of Education--would be a vital step in the ongoing fight for racial equality. But that victory did not occur in a vacuum. The civil rights movement reached this milestone because several key figures, catalysts, and circumstances culminated in a perfect storm for progress. Goldstone details the harrowing journey toward Brown by providing ample historical and cultural context for the decades preceding the decision: the founding of the NAACP, the racist violence sweeping the nation, and the artistic explosion of the Harlem Renaissance, to name a few. The author takes care to balance depictions of Black oppression with examples of Black triumph and perseverance. Several key characters who influenced the civil rights movement also feature: Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, among others. The prose is engaging and accessible for young readers without being condescending, and intense scenes from history illuminate nearly every chapter. Goldstone underlines the tireless efforts of civil rights activists despite staggering odds, offering hope for a present that is also plagued by racial inequalities and violence. Crucial historical information wrapped in well-written, inviting prose. (bibliography, source notes, image credits, index) (Nonfiction. 12-17) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Critically acclaimed author Lawrence Goldstone offers an affecting portrait of the road to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, which significantly shaped the United States and effectively ended segregation.

Since 1896, in the landmark outcome of Plessy v. Ferguson , the doctrine of "separate but equal" had been considered acceptable under the United States Constitution. African American and white populations were thus segregated, attending different schools, living in different neighborhoods, and even drinking from different water fountains. However, as African Americans found themselves lacking opportunity and living under the constant menace of mob violence, it was becoming increasingly apparent that segregation was not only unjust, but dangerous.

Fighting to turn the tide against racial oppression, revolutionaries rose up all over America, from Booker T. Washington to W. E. B. Du Bois. They formed coalitions of some of the greatest legal minds and activists, who carefully strategized how to combat the racist judicial system. These efforts would be rewarded in the groundbreaking cases of 1952-1954 known collectively as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka , in which the US Supreme Court would decide, once and for all, the legality of segregation -- and on which side of history the United States would stand.

In this thrilling examination of the path to Brown v. Board of Education , Constitutional law scholar Lawrence Goldstone highlights the key trials and players in the fight for integration. Written with a deft hand, this story of social justice will remind readers, young and old, of the momentousness of the segregation hearings.

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