RACISM AND THE LAW: SLAVERY, INTEGRATION, AND MODERN RESEGREGATION IN AMERICA

Abstract

"The destinies of the two races in this country are indissolubly linked together, and the interests of both require that the common government of all shall not permit the seeds of race hate to be planted under the sanction of law," declared Justice Harlan in his ringing dissent to Plessy v. Ferguson. Yet in 1896, his vision of a "colorblind" America was marred by centuries of racism and prejudice. Similarly, despite lofty ideals, the Supreme Court's historical treatment of African Americans in the United States stands in sharp contrast to the declaration that all are created equal. "Other racial injustices in this nation's history are grave, but are different in part because the injuries were less fundamentally legal in nature." Nevertheless, the Court in Brown v. Board of Education "did what, until 1954, neither the presidents nor the Congress could or would do" by abolishing government-imposed racial segregation. Today, the Court continues to struggle with this mandate as demographic and economic factors contribute to the resegregation of neighborhoods and schools. Professor Lynette L. Danley's The Diary of M.A.D. Black Mama: The Blessings of Reality, gives a vivid illustration of how racism and the law continue to impact America. This paper will introduce Professor Danley's monologue by providing a brief overview of the major Supreme Court decisions that have taken America from slavery and segregation to integration. It will also explore the sharply divided Court decisions that have allowed modern de facto resegregation to occur. However, a comprehensive discussion of the dozens of landmark "race" cases and their accompanying historical contexts is beyond the scope of this paper. Additionally, while many minority groups have been disadvantaged by the legal system, this paper will only address the plight of African Americans. Rather than presenting a voluminous historical account, this paper tells the story of racism in American law through a few critical Supreme Court cases that have shaped societal views of race and equality in America.  
How to Cite
. RACISM AND THE LAW: SLAVERY, INTEGRATION, AND MODERN RESEGREGATION IN AMERICA. Journal of Law and Family Studies, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 2, dec. 2009. Available at: <http://epubs.utah.edu/index.php/jlfs/article/view/213>. Date accessed: 21 nov. 2017.
Section
Monologues and Commentary