History Day - Civil Rights & Human Rights

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Court Cases

These are only some of the well known court cases.

These are not all the significant court cases. This guide is based on past History Day topics researched at the Connecticut State Library.

Be sure to check other sections of this guide - for example the Civil Rights page has links to the U.S. Constitution and the Annotated Constitution.


  • Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
    • upheld Jim Crow laws - separate but equal
    • Justice John Marshal Harlan dissented
  • Cumming v. Richmond (Ga.) County Board of Education (1899)
  • Gong Lum v. Rice (1927)
    • student of Chinese descent barred from "white: school.
  • Murray v. Maryland (1936)
  • Missouri ex rel Gaines v. Canada (1938)
  • Sweat v. Painter (1950)
  • McLaurin v. Oklahoma Board of Regents of Higher Education (1950)
  • Brown v. Board of Education (1954, 1955)
    • Made up of five cases: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v. Elliot, Davis v. Board of Education of Prince Edward County (VA.), Bolling v. Sharpe, and Gebhart v. Ethel.
    • Separate is not equal

Dred Scott

Dred Scott v. Sandford

Plessy v. Ferguson


  • Upheld Jim Crow laws - "separate but equal" doctrine
  • Justice John Marshal Harlan dissented
  • Reversed by Brown v. Board of Education.

Other Institutions

Brown v Board of Ed

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

In Brown v Board of Education the Supreme Court reversed the 1896 case of Plessy v Ferguson.

Brown v. Board of Education incorporates several cases - you may need to look at records and briefs of earlier cases. These include: Briggs v. Elliot (filed in South Carolina), Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County (filed in Virginia), Gebhardt v. Belton (filed in Delaware), and Boiling v. Sharpe (filed in Washington D.C.).

Voting Rights

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