The high court, in its unanimous May 14, 1954, decision in the case, ruled that racial segregation was a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. A year later, the high court handed down a plan for how desegregation was to be carried out, ruling that it should proceed with "all deliberate speed."
Trickey and the seven other surviving members of the "Little Rock Nine" -- who were escorted by federal troops into Little Rock's Central High School in September 1957 -- gathered at the University of Arkansas' Clinton School of Public Service for a joint news conference to kick off a series of events commemorating the desegregation anniversary. Some of the surviving members said 60 years ago, they tried to focus more on having the opportunity to attend the school rather than the mobs screaming threats and insults at them.
After the Brown ruling, girls also volunteered in vastly disproportionate numbers to be the first to desegregate formerly all-white schools -- another trial. To be "admitted" to historically white schools in the deep South, girls had to pass a battery of tests and an interview with the school board. In 1963, the all-white, all-male Charleston School Board requested to see 12-year-old Millicent Brown. They wanted to know if she liked her black school, and if she enjoyed going to school with her friends. "So why would you want to leave that," they queried, "and go someplace where you don't know anybody?" Brown shot back: "Because I make friends wherever I go."
Desegregation court orders hit in different years in different cities, and Johnson was able to compare how younger siblings, who had attended more years in integrated schools, fared differently from older siblings who had experienced more years of segregated schools. He found that the black siblings who were exposed to more years of desegregation tended to do better. They graduated from high school and college in higher numbers, earned higher incomes, went into more prestigious occupations, enjoyed better health and were less likely to go to jail. The study of siblings is important because it compares kids with the same parenting, family income and home neighborhoods. Presumably they had similar upbringings, which gives more weight to the conclusion that a desegregated education made a difference.