Interview with Paul Wilson


Paul Wilson:

Alright. The question that was raised, concerned the validity, the constitutional validity, of the separate but equal doctrine. There were in Topeka, as I recall at that time, four black schools, twenty or eighteen white schools. The black schools were spaced more widely in the district, and the black students were provided with bus transportation, because to walk would have been uh, in many cases, an intolerable distance for a child. The schools were found to be, by the United States District Court, of equal quality. Now there was some argument, that there might have been some inequality, and it's true that I think some of the black schools were located in somewhat poorer neighborhoods than were many of the white schools. But nevertheless, the schools were found to be of equal quality, and the question, then, raised by the Kansas case, uh faced squarely the validity of the separate but equal doctrine. In the other states, as I understand it, there was separation, but inequality, so the Kansas case presented squarely the constitutional validity of the separate but equal, uh doctrine, which had been approved by the court in Plessy against Ferguson before the beginning of this century, and had been followed by a good many of the federal courts after that time.