Between students and state : desegregation and the University of Oklahoma
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In 1948 George McLaurin sat outside his first class at the University of Oklahoma. McLaurin was the first African American to be admitted to the University of Oklahoma on a segregated basis. The University of Oklahoma boasts having integrated in 1950, four years before the Brown v. Board of Education decision. However, the real reasons for integration were the complications of implementing “separate but equal” doctrine and the students who challenged segregation in the courts.In 1896 the constitutionality of racial segregation was upheld by the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson. Justice Henry Brown delivered the majority opinion, which established the “separate but equal” doctrine. According to the court’s opinion, the “fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority.” Although the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution establishes “equal protection of the laws” the logic was that if the facilities were equal, the Constitution was not violated.
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