On May 17, 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the unanimous opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in the matter of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, overturning its landmark ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, which had upheld the constitutionality of segregationist state laws under the doctrine of “separate but equal.”
The court’s abandonment of Plessy reverberated throughout the country, but by itself could not dislodge Jim Crow. Only years of social upheaval could bring about legislation as transformative as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Civil Rights movement finally pressured the politicians to act—and the press served as its witnesses. With a presence in the South stretching back ninety years, The Associated Press was uniquely prepared to report it.
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