Did you know the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling did not apply to schools in Washington, DC?
1950, local barber and civil rights activist Gardner Bishop escorted 11 African American students to the newly built John Phillips Sousa Junior High School in Washington, D.C. to enroll for their first day of school.
The students were denied enrollment by the principal solely based on race. Gardner, leader of the Consolidated Parents Group, aimed his focus on challenging the "separate but equal" ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), citing the less than equal accommodations in the District of Columbia.
Washington, DC's schools for African Americans were overcrowded and lacked the necessary classroom supplies, while the all-white schools were well appointed and were not at capacity.
Spottswood Bolling Jr., one of the students who attempted to enroll at Sousa Junior High would be the first listed on the suit brought against DC's school superintendent C. Melvin Sharpe.
Bolling v. C. Melvin Sharpe was decided on the same day as the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education. In a separate ruling on May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that segregation in D.C. public schools was unconstitutional under the 5th Amendment, since the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment applies only to states.