A dramatization of the American court case that destroyed the legal validity of racial segregation.
view Separate But Equal on imdb
view Separate But Equal on wikipedia
This film follows the true story of the NAACP court court challenge of racial school segregation in the Brown vs. Board of Education. This was the struggle would destroy the legal validity for racial segregation in general and prove to be the start and the first major victory of the civil rights movement. Written byKenneth Chisholm
`John, if this case goes before the Supreme Court. . . I'm gonna need
It's the early 1950's, in America. The governor of South Carolina (James
Francis Byrnes), in his 70's at the time, pays a visit to his friend, the
famous John W. Davis. Davis had argued 138 cases in front of the Supreme
Court. Byrnes was turning to him for help.
Byrnes was determined to show that discrimination and segregation of public
schools were not the same thing. He wanted black school children to have
equal schools. He was ashamed of the terrible condition the black schools
were in, in his state of South Carolina. He even levied a three percent
sales tax to fund the improvement of black schools. He was prepared to spend
75 million dollars to improve the public schools for black children in his
But he knew, that the small case that a few courageous people (Harry Briggs,
Reverand J.A. Delaine) had started in Clarendon county, SC, was too big of
an issue for his efforts alone. The case was on it's way to the Supreme
Court of the United States of America.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the NAACP),
had become involved. Their head lawyer, Thurgood Marshall had combined this
case and 4 other similar cases (from Delaware, Kansas, DC and Virginia) into
one called 'Brown v. Board of Education', and made it his mission to strike
down segregation in public schools in America.
The great thing about this film is how it makes each side look respectable.
The film does not make this a 'bad evil white men against poor suffering
black people' type of story. But rather, the film, portrays the white men as
being highly respected, educated and willing to do the right thing. But at
the same time, very concerned and perhaps even afraid of the consequences of
I also loved the humor in this film. For example when Byrnes is conversing
with Davis and says 'I admit to past sins, our colored schools are a
disgrace'. Or when one of the lawyers at the NAACP legal defense fund says
about the South Carolina case "If we win this one, we'll only have 11,172
school districts left"
The heart of this film is the uncommon courage of the people. Courage among
so many involved. Of course, first from the blacks from those small towns,
who risked their jobs and safety, and faced the hate of the Ku Klux Klan, by
taking these complaints to their local lawyers. Then, to the NAACP, for
climbing this long and expensive uphill battle. But also, to the judges on
the Supreme Court, and in particular the Chief Judge Earl
Warren was quoted as saying 'Everything that I did in life that was
worthwhile, I caught hell for'. What a difficult decision, but what a
remarkable effort on his part to unite the nine members of the Supreme Court
to conclude the case with a unanimous decision to end segregation in public
schools in America.
It took a lot of brave people on both sides, to end separation of black and
white school children in public schools. Perhaps Thurgood Marshall summed it
up best, when he mocked the thinking of people in the south by saying 'you
can have them attending the same State Universities and Graduate schools,
but if they attend the same elementary and high schools together, the world
would fall apart.'
A wonderful treasured film. Must see for all.
Separate but Equal is a great film depicting the tragedy of the time of
racial segregation in schools and the steps which these men from the NAACP
took to correct it. The film has great acting and intense speech emotion
but sinks into the wordiness and vocabulary which lawyers and judges use
leaves the audience scratching their heads or reading the dictionary.
Nevertheless, the film has great speeches and facts as well as events
suitable in a history-documentary. Great film to sit by and try to teach
yourself to be a lawyer.
This film was really good, but it was really draggy and it could have
finished in one video instead of two. There were a lot of unnecessary
talking and scenes, but it was still a very educational film. 2½ stars