Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

Background information:
The Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education case dealed with the desegregation of schools from 1970 to 1971. In 1954, after the Brown v. Board of Education case, the court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional. But little was being done to get rid of the racial segregation. After the Brown case in 1954, North Carolina assigned schools according to geographical location instead of race or color. The problem was that after the reassignments, African Americans still ended up in African American schools in central Charlotte as opposed to the majority white schools further outside the city. The Swann case was brought on behalf of James Swann, a six-year-old, and nine other families. They wanted the Board of Education to do something about the assignment of schools and how each school had a predominant race.

Constitutional significance:
The Fourteenth Amendment states that all citizens have “equal protection of the laws.” If local governments do not uphold this by, in this case, denying an African American child into a predominantly white school for the fact of his race, then the local government is not upholding the Constitution.

Decision/precedent set:
On April 20, 1971, the Court ruled that busing students and reorganizing school boundaries are legal and good methods to gain a desegregated public school system. This case was right after the start of the desegregation of schools and helped further desegregation. Years after, though, this case was criticized by white and African American parents who thought that busing could potentially harm African American students by requiring them to take long bus rides to and from school. Despite this, busing continued in major cities until the late 1990’s.

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Zack Brinkman, Period 2