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McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (1950)

Appellant, a Negro citizen of Oklahoma possessing a masters degree, was admitted to the Graduate School of the state-supported University of Oklahoma as a candidate for a doctorate in education and was permitted to use the same classroom, library and cafeteria as white students. Pursuant to a requirement of state law that the instruction of Negroes in institutions of higher education be upon a segregated basis, however, he was assigned to a seat in the classroom in a row specified for Negro students, was assigned to a special table in the library, and, although permitted to eat in the cafeteria at the same time as other students, was assigned to a special table there. Held: The conditions under which appellant is required to receive his education deprive him of his personal and present right to the equal protection of the laws; and the Fourteenth Amendment precludes such differences in treatment by the State based upon race. Pp. 638-642.

(a) The restrictions imposed upon appellant impair and inhibit his ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn his profession. Pp. 640-641.

(b) That appellant may still be set apart by his fellow students and may be in no better position when these restrictions are removed is irrelevant, for there is a constitutional difference between restrictions imposed by the State which prohibit the intellectual commingling of students and the refusal of students to commingle where the State presents no such bar. P. 641.

(c) Having been admitted to a state-supported graduate school, appellant must receive the same treatment at the hands of the State as students of other races. P. 642.

87 F. Supp. 528, reversed.

The proceedings below are stated in the opinion. The judgment below is reversed, p. 642.

Robert L. Carter and Amos T. Hall argued the cause for appellant. With them on the brief were Thurgood [339 U.S. 637, 638] Marshall and Frank D. Reeves. Marian W. Perry and Franklin H. Williams were also of counsel.

Fred Hansen,

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