South Carolina group to ask Supreme Court to rename landmark school desegregation case

SUMMERTON, S.C. — Civil rights leaders in South Carolina plan to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to rename the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation of public schools across the country.

Over the next three months, a group representing past plaintiffs and their descendants plans to file paperwork asking the high court to reorder the set of five 1954 cases that led to the Brown ruling, The Post and Courier reports. The group, which has teamed up with a lawyer in Camden, South Carolina, wants to replace Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka with a South Carolina case that was filed earlier but is lesser known.

Briggs v. Elliott is a South Carolina case named after Harry Briggs, one of 20 parents who brought a lawsuit against Clarendon County School Board President R.W. Elliott.

The group sees the name change as a way to restore South Carolina as the cradle of the movement to desegregate public education.

“Everyone else lays down and says you can’t do this,” said prominent South Carolina civil rights photographer Cecil Williams, who has been at the forefront of the effort.

“Many will call it crazy,” he added. “It might be laughed out of court.”

To Williams and the 20 families who signed their names to the Briggs case, it is worth the effort to try to right what they view as an injustice.

“If this country is going to ever reconcile with its history, this is a good place, upon the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education,” Williams said.

The Briggs case, filed in May 1950, was the first such case to be taken to federal court. The Brown case came nearly nine months later.


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