• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court overruled a state policy of admitting African Americans to a public university’s graduate program on a segregated basis.

In 1938 the Supreme Court held that states must provide equal opportunities for education in legal matters within the borders of the state. George McLaurin, a black teacher who was sixty-eight years old, was admitted to the University of Oklahoma’s graduate program because no other program within the state offered a Ph.D. in education. The Oklahoma legislature passed a statute requiring segregation within all graduate programs that admitted African American students. McLaurin was required to sit at designated desks in classrooms and in the library. By a 9-0 vote, the Court found that such a policy of isolation detracted from McLaurin’s educational experience, in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court held that after admitting a student to a state university, the state may not afford the student different treatment solely because of the person’s race.African Americans;higher education[higher education]Separate but equal doctrine;McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education[MacLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education]African Americans;higher education[higher education]

The McLaurin case was argued and decided simultaneously with a companion case, Sweatt v. Painter[case]Sweatt v. Painter[Sweatt v. Painter](1950). In Sweatt, the Court ruled that a law school for African Americans in Texas was unconstitutional because it did not offer educational opportunities that were substantially equal to those offered to whites. The McLaurin and Sweatt decisions helped prepare the way for Brown v. Board of Education (1954).African Americans;higher education[higher education]

Brown v. Board of Education


Race and discrimination

Segregation, de jure

Separate but equal doctrine

Categories: History