The history of African Americans in higher education (i.e., Black enrollment) provides the background for understanding how “dual education systems” developed for “Whites” and “Blacks.” Legalized separation by race was endorsed with the “separate-but-equal” ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and upheld the development of separate education systems. It was not until Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that public education was mandated to dismantle its “separate-but-equal” facilities. Prior to this, five court cases pointed the way for efforts to promote access to higher education: University of Maryland v. Murray (1935), Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938), Sipuel v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma (1948), Sweatt v. Painter (Texas, 1950), and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (1950).

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