Unhappy with the outcome, and facing resistance from powerful Southern officials, Eisenhower nonetheless swore to uphold the Constitutional process. Anticipating problems with enforcing the process of school integration, the Court had stated that the question of implementing the decision would be taken up the following year.

For the most part, news of the decision generated a renewed optimism throughout the African American community. Marshall remained cautious, but he too anticipated the decision would promote relatively rapid and significant change.

Southern reaction was swift and guarded. In the Border States, where officials more openly endorsed compliance with the decision, it appeared that the process of desegregation would at least proceed…but there were, of course, exceptions.

In Milford, Delaware, a community that included many poor white farmers, a rumor circulated that one of the eleven Black students newly admitted to the local high school on the orders of Chancellor Seitz had asked a white girl to a dance. There was no history here of open confrontation between the races, but long-standing tensions escalated quickly and the school was closed amidst threats of violence.

An absence of official leadership provided a perfect opening for con man-turned demagogue, Bryant Bowles. Bowles founded the National Association for the Advancement of White People. He descended on the community from nearby Baltimore, Maryland, rallying large crowds and preaching an ardent gospel of segregation. ‘The Negro,’ he shouted, ‘will not be satisfied until he moves into the bedroom of the white man's home.’ Bowles complicated the process of integraion in Delaware, fanning the fires of hatred and suspicion. It would take nearly a decade, until 1962, for Black students to again be admitted to Milford's white schools.

On May 31, 1955, after considering for a year the expected Southern resistance to integration, and the cost and difficulties in actually upholding the new declaration that separate was inherently unequal, a cautious Court again announced a unanimous decision in what would come to be called Brown II. The South, the Supreme Court concluded, should be directed to proceed with integrating its public schools "...with all deliberate speed." The line would become infamous for its vagueness, its inability to demand a specific timeline for integration. Anti-integrationists would use the phrase as a pivotal point for their resistance.

No deadlinewas set for implementation of the Brown decision. Rather, federal judges in district and appeals courts in the south and Border States were instructed to require that the defendants make a prompt and reasonable start toward full compliance. The outcome of such language was predictable, and progress was limited by the language of the law that had finally established the principle of equal education.

Marshall remained optimistic but opposition from extremists and even more moderate southern whites was consistent, organized and sometimes deadly. On March 12, 1956, 19 Senators and 77 House Members representing eleven states issued "The Southern Manifesto", declaring that ‘the unwarranted decision of the Supreme Court in the public school cases is now bearing the fruit always produced when men substitute naked power for established law.’.

By 1957, television was well on the way to becoming a dominant presence in the mainstream American home. When violence erupted in Little Rock, Arkansas in September of that year, viewers got an up close and personal look at the ongoing resistance that plagued school desegregation. Violent mobs of angry whites barred students from admission to Central High School for two weeks. Eisenhower waffled, then sent in the National Guard to restore order. The events served to further radicalize southern resistance.

An emerging civil rights movement led by a new guard of African American leadership professed that the Courts alone could not reshape American Society and produce the equality that continued to elude its citizens of color. By 1960, even Marshall conceded that litigation alone would not be enough to establish equality and harmony between the races.

Buoyed by the results of boycotts and other public displays of solidarity led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., expectations among blacks and sympathetic whites was rising. Activism worked, though some civil rights activists were becoming increasingly confrontational. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy introduced a civil rights bill.

The Movement strengthened and grew. Resolved to continue after Kennedy's death, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law on July 2, 1964. It was immediately followed by a Voting Rights Act the following year. Confirming his belief in a Great Society in which government would take a leadership position in insuring equal rights for all of its citizens, Johnson addressed a graduating class at Howard University.

Ironically, the process of desegregating America's public schools proceeded most smoothly in the south. Full desegregation would take nearly another decade, a speed that many found to be all too deliberate. But test scores, graduation rates and college attendance of African American students continued to rise.

The murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil unrest in major American cities in the north and west that followed, accelerated a ‘white flight’ to the suburbs that had begun earlier in the decade. By 1973, it was complete. Weary from the Vietnam War and a dampened economy, the country, including some members of the rising black middle class, had little interest in further pursuing the cause of housing rights for large numbers of poorer African Americans left in the nation's inner cities What came to be known as ‘defacto segregation’ in urban neighborhoods only compounded the process. Still, plans for implementing school desegregation orders continued to evolve and included busing students across neighborhoods to achieve to racial balance.

On July 25, 1974, a closely divided Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Warren Burger refused to uphold a broad metropolitan plan for integrating inner-city and suburban school children, via busing, in Detroit.

In his dissenting opinion, Thurgood Marshall, who had been appointed the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, wrote, "Our nation, I fear, will be ill-served by the Court's refusal to remedy separate and unequal education, for unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever learn to live together."

In the fall of 1974, President Richard Nixon won a second term in office. On the first day of court-ordered busing in Boston, Massachusetts, opposition, largely from working class whites, came to a head in violent confrontation.

The following years saw a stale-mate in the process of desegregation. No one involved in the cases in 1954 could have imagined the tremendous social and political resistance to the integration of public education.

Some seventy years after its first Court victory, the LDF's legal battle to level the playing field for students of color at the graduate level continues. In 2003, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. won a victory in the Supreme Court when the justices upheld the use of race in admissions policies at the University of Michigan Law School.

These most recent Supreme Court cases dealing with race and education are a pointed reminder to Americans that the battle to equalize opportunity in education is still very much in progress, the best solutions to the problems that have arisen are still in heated debate, and the proponents of integration are actively following in the foosteps of Marshall, Houston, and the millions of anonymous citizens who have struggled to secure the equality promised in the founding doctrines of this country.