National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

Denise Cowan v. Bolivar County Board of Education

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court issued the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education, holding that “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” A year later, on May 31, 1955, the Supreme Court issued a second order directing compliance with Brown I “with all deliberate speed.” 

Ten years later, residents of Bolivar County, Mississippi, filed a now 50-year-old action seeking the desegregation of their school system. In May, 2016, after decades of litigation, a federal judge ordered the Cleveland School District to desegregate its middle and high schools. 

National Center for Youth Law joined as co-counsel on this case in 2020. Efforts are underway to realize the 2016 federal court’s promise that – after 50 years of delay – all middle and high school students in the Cleveland School District will have equal access to educational resources and opportunity for generations to come.