© 2022 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Law Clerks Remember Brown Court Deliberations

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – All nine justices who ruled in the Brown vs. Board of Education school segregation case 50 years ago are now dead. But some of their law clerks survive. And Wednesday, they told the story of what went on behind closed doors in the Supreme Court.

The law clerks were just young men, fresh out of law school, when they arrived at the Supreme Court at what was perhaps the most exciting time in the court's history.

It was the early 1950s and people were starting to fight back against Plessy vs. Ferguson, an 1896 Supreme Court case that established the "separate but equal" standard in the nation. For African-Americans, it was "separate and unequal." Their schools were inferior, some without lunchrooms, music rooms, gyms or even bathrooms. By 1952, the Supreme Court agreed to hear five cases.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear Mark Scott's story on the months leading up to the Brown vs. Board of Education decision.