Interview with Constance Baker Motley
QUESTION 63
INTERVIEWER:

WONDERFUL. SOUND PLEASE. YES? THAT LIGHT WENT OUT.

CAMERA CREW MEMBER:

SPEED. SOUND 15. WE'RE LOOKING FOR THE CHANGOVER POINT…

Judge Constance Baker Motley:

Well, of course, the Supreme Court's decision in the Brown case has its own legal history. The Supreme Court did not decide that case in a vacuum, -or by itself, but against the background of other cases which had preceded it. And the cases which preceded Brown did not challenge segregation per se, they were brought within the context of the separate but equal doctrine. We had a clear [ cases ] where the state had failed to provide any facility for blacks. So it was easy to go in the court and say: "The state has failed to provide blacks with a separate law school. Therefore the plaintiff is entitled to admission to the one law that the state has provided for its citizens. Now the Brown case itself, however, after years of preparation, embodied this frontal attack upon the very concept of segregation per se, as applied to education. And so when the Supreme Court got that case, it had before it for the first time in our history, a direct assault on the concept of separate but equal as applied to education.