Cumming v. County Board of Education, No. 164

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHarlan
Citation44 L.Ed. 262,20 S.Ct. 197,175 U.S. 528
Decision Date18 December 1899
Docket NumberNo. 164
PartiesJ. W. CUMMING, James S. Harper, and John C. Ladeveze, Plffs. in Err. , v. COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION of Richmond County, State of Georgia

175 U.S. 528
20 S.Ct. 197
44 L.Ed. 262
J. W. CUMMING, James S. Harper, and John C. Ladeveze, Plffs. in Err.,

v.

COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION of Richmond County, State of Georgia.

No. 164.
Argued October 30, 1899.
Decided December 18, 1899.

Page 529

The plaintiffs in error, Cumming, Harper, and Ladeveze, citizens of Georgia and persons of color, suing on behalf of themselves and all others in like case joining with them, brought this action against the board of education of Richmond county and Charles S. Bohler, tax collector.

In the petition filed by them it was alleged——

That the plaintiffs were residents, property owners, and taxpayers of Richmond county, the defendant board being a corporation created under an act of the general assembly of Georgia of August 23d, 1872, regulating public instruction in that county empowering the board to annually levy such tax as it deemed necessary for public school purposes;

That on the 10th of July, 1897, the board levied for that year for the support of primary, intermediate, grammar, and high schools in the county, a tax of $45,000, which was then due and being collected;

That the petitioners interposed no objections to so much of the tax as was for primary, intermediate, and grammar schools, but the tax for the support of the system of high schools was illegal and void for the reason that that system was for the and benefit of the white population exclusively;

That the board was not authorized by law to levy any tax for the support of a system of high schools in which the colored school population of the county were not given the same educational facilities as were furnished the white school population;

That at least $4,500 of the tax of $45,000 was being col-

Page 530

lected and when collected would be used for the support of such system of high schools:

That the board had on hand the sum of $20,000 or other large sum, the proceeds of prior tax levies, in trust to disburse solely for legal educational purposes in the county, and would receive from the tax levy of 1897 and from other sources large sums in like trust, and that it was the owner and had the custody and control of school fixtures, furniture, educational equipments and appliances generally, holding the same in like trust; and,

That although the board was not authorized by law to use any part of such funds or property for the support and maintenance of a system of high schools in which the colored school population were not given the same educational facilities as were furnished for the white school population, it was using such funds and property in the support and maintenance of its existing high-school system, the educational advantages of which were restricted wholly to the benefit of the white school population of Richmond county to the entire exclusion of the colored school population, and that by such use of those funds and property a deficiency for educational purposes would inevitably result, to make which good additional taxation would be required.

The petitioners also alleged that they were persons of color and parents of children of school age lawfully entitled to the full benefit of any system of high schools organized or maintained by the board; that up to the time of the said tax levy and for many years continuously prior thereto, the board maintained a system of high schools in Richmond county in which the colored school population had the same educational advantages as the white school population, but on July 10th, 1897, it withdrew from and denied to the colored school population any participation in the educational facilities of a high-school system in the county, and had voted to continue to deny to that population any admission to or participation in such educational facilities; and that at the time of such withdrawal and denial the petitioners respectively had children attending the colored high school then existing, but who were

Page 531

now debarred from participation in the benefits of a public high-school education though petitioners were being taxed therefor. They averred that the action of the board of education was a denial of the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution of the United States, and that it was inequitable, illegal, and unconstitutional for the board to levy upon or for the tax collector to collect from them any tax for the educational purposes of the county from the benefits of which the petitioners in the persons of their children of school age were excluded and debarred.

The petitioners prayed that the tax collector, Bohler, be enjoined from collecting so much of the tax levy of July 10th, 1897, as had been levied for the support of said system of high schools; that the board be enjoined from using any funds or property then held by it or thereafter to come into its hands for educational purposes in the county for the support, maintenance, or operation of that system; and that they have such other and further relief as was equitable and just.

The board of education demurred to the petition and also filed an answer. It denied that it had established any system of high schools in the county, and averred that it was neither its duty nor had it authority to establish such a system, although it had authority in its discretion to establish high schools at such points in the county as the interest or convenience of the people required; that in pursuance of such authority it had established the Neely High School in 1876, but in 1878 its name was changed to that of the Tubman High School, when Mrs. Emily H. Tubman presented to the board a large lot and building for the purpose of affording a higher education to the young women of the county, the Richmond Academy affording this benefit and advantage to the male sex; that the demand was urgent for the continuance of the Tubman school by the board, and it was so accordingly determined, each pupil paying $15 for tuition per annum and nonresidents of the county $40, which was the charge made by the Richmond Academy for Boys; and that the property, the value of which with the fixtures, furniture, and appliances was worth not less than $30,000, was

Page 532

donated by Mrs. Tubman upon the express condition that in the event the board failed to use the building for a high school the same was to inure instantly to the benefit of the Richmond Academy and the Augusta Free School;

That in June, 1876, the board deemed it wise to give its assistance to the Hephzibah High School, conducted and controlled by the Hephzibah Baptist Association in the village of Hephzibah, in the southeastern part of the county, charging and receiving for high school scholars the sum of $15 per annum;

That, in 1880, there being no high school in the county for the colored race, the funds of the board justifying it, and other schools of lower grade having been established by the local trustees in Augusta sufficient to accommodate the colored children, the board deemed it wise and proper to establish the Ware High School, charging for each pupil taught therein $10 per annum; and

That in June, 1897, a special committee appointed by the board invesigated the status of the high schoools in the county and ascertained the condition of each, and the committee recommended that, for 'purely economic reasons in the education of the negro race,' the Ware High School be discontinued and the city conference...

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57 practice notes
  • Liddell v. BD. OF ED., CITY OF ST. LOUIS, ETC., No. 72-100C(1).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • April 12, 1979
    ...doctrine of Plessy, which dealt with railway transportation, was extended to apply to public schools. Cuming v. County Board of Education, 175 U.S. 528, 20 S.Ct. 197, 44 L.Ed. 262 (1899). Thereafter, state laws mandating separate school systems for black and white students were upheld under......
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Local U. 542, Int. U. of Op. Eng., Civ. A. No. 71-2698.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • December 4, 1974
    ...172 (1927); Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208 (1938); Cumming v. County Board of Education, 175 U.S. 528, 20 S.Ct. 197, 44 L.Ed. 262 (3) Housing. Tillman v. Wheaton-Haven Recreation Ass'n, 410 U.S. 431, 93 S.Ct. 1090, 35 L.Ed.2d 403 (1973); Jones v.......
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Local U. No. 542, Int. U. of Op. Eng., Civ. A. No. 71-2698.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • August 4, 1972
    ...At least the Court meant the `separate' part of the standard, as indicated a few years later in Cumming v. Richmond County School Board 175 U.S. 528, 20 S.Ct. 197, 44 L.Ed. 262 when it termed ridiculous a suggestion that the school board's failure to provide a high school for black students......
  • Hopkins v. City Of Richmond, (No. 1.)
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • September 9, 1915
    ...before the United States Supreme Court of the validity of the separate school law in the case of Cumming v. County Board of Education, 175 U. S. 528, 20 Sup. Ct. 197, 44 L. Ed. 262, where Justice Harlan said: 'We may add that, while all admit that the benefits and burdens of public taxation......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
57 cases
  • Liddell v. BD. OF ED., CITY OF ST. LOUIS, ETC., No. 72-100C(1).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • April 12, 1979
    ...doctrine of Plessy, which dealt with railway transportation, was extended to apply to public schools. Cuming v. County Board of Education, 175 U.S. 528, 20 S.Ct. 197, 44 L.Ed. 262 (1899). Thereafter, state laws mandating separate school systems for black and white students were upheld under......
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Local U. 542, Int. U. of Op. Eng., Civ. A. No. 71-2698.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • December 4, 1974
    ...172 (1927); Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S.Ct. 232, 83 L.Ed. 208 (1938); Cumming v. County Board of Education, 175 U.S. 528, 20 S.Ct. 197, 44 L.Ed. 262 (3) Housing. Tillman v. Wheaton-Haven Recreation Ass'n, 410 U.S. 431, 93 S.Ct. 1090, 35 L.Ed.2d 403 (1973); Jones v.......
  • Commonwealth of Pa. v. Local U. No. 542, Int. U. of Op. Eng., Civ. A. No. 71-2698.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • August 4, 1972
    ...At least the Court meant the `separate' part of the standard, as indicated a few years later in Cumming v. Richmond County School Board 175 U.S. 528, 20 S.Ct. 197, 44 L.Ed. 262 when it termed ridiculous a suggestion that the school board's failure to provide a high school for black students......
  • Hopkins v. City Of Richmond, (No. 1.)
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • September 9, 1915
    ...before the United States Supreme Court of the validity of the separate school law in the case of Cumming v. County Board of Education, 175 U. S. 528, 20 Sup. Ct. 197, 44 L. Ed. 262, where Justice Harlan said: 'We may add that, while all admit that the benefits and burdens of public taxation......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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