This episode of The American Experience tells the story of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP's effort to integrate public schools in the south.
Based closely on Richard Kluger's book of the same name, Simple Justice recounts the remarkable legal strategy and social struggle that resulted in the US Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The Court's decision not only struck down segregated schools on the basis of race, but announced finally that America had begun to face the consequences of its dehumanizing social practice. In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that racial segregation along "separate but equal" terms was constitutional. Thirty years later, Charles Hamilton Houston took over Howard University's run-down segregated law school with the idea of training a cadre of elite African American lawyers who would wipe out the legal basis for segregation once and for all. Houston shaped the minds and the strategy that would triumph over segregation, but he wouldn't live to see the victory. It would be left to his brilliant student, Thurgood Marshall, to finish the work that Houston began.