Brown v. Board of Education
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
One of the most important legal decisions in U.S. history, the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas declared school segregation unconstitutional and paved the way for the civil rights achievements of the 1960s. By overturning the "separate but equal" doctrine established in Plessey v. Ferguson (1896), Brown v. Board of Education began the process of unraveling more than half a century of federally sanctioned discrimination against African Americans. As a result, it also initiated a struggle between a government now obligated to integrate all public schools and recalcitrant communities determined to maintain the status quo. This photograph shows an anti-integration rally in Little Rock, Arkansas, on 20 August 1959. The protesters carry American flags alongside placards declaring racial mixing to be "communism" and "the march of the antichrist"—a fascinating and disturbing mix of patriotism, prejudice, and fear.