Brown and the Desegregative Ideal: Higher Education, Location, and Racial College Identity

29 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2007


Although Brown concerned primary and secondary public education, the road to Brown ran through several higher education cases in which Black students were denied admission into predominantly white colleges. In these cases, the relevant universities crucially influenced place, as states physically excluded Blacks from these white public spaces. In response to Black demand for higher education access, states erected black colleges, started black law schools, aid for scholarships for Blacks to attend colleges or professional schools in other states, or required Blacks to sit, eat, and study in designated areas with white college facilities when courts ordered them admitted. This article reviews the higher education cases leading to and from Brown, and reviews several more recent cases where site and location have played a role in higher education access, including those that give public preference to graduates of restricted high schools - ones that themselves often turn on racial character. Any review of these cases will show that where a college is located can apportion access in a way that benefits or harms certain classes of attendees.

Keywords: Colleges, Higher Education, Desegregation, Residence

Suggested Citation

Olivas, Michael A., Brown and the Desegregative Ideal: Higher Education, Location, and Racial College Identity. Cornell Law Review, Vol. 90, No. 2, 2005, U of Houston Law Center, No. 2007-A-53, Available at SSRN:

Michael A. Olivas (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States
713-743-2078 (Phone)
713-743-2085 (Fax)

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