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.
The McLaurin case was argued and decided simultaneously with a companion case, Sweatt v. Painter
Brown v. Board of Education
Race and discrimination
Segregation, de jure
Separate but equal doctrine