Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)


Lloyd Gaines v. Canada, a step toward desegregation in education

This year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Lloyd Gaines, a 24-year old college graduate, should be either admitted to the Law School of the University of Missouri, or the state of Missouri should build a law school for blacks equal to that of whites. The Gaines case was a significant decision that would constitute a great leap forward in the battle to end educational segregation that culminated in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

Lloyd Gaines had had been denied entrance to the law school at the University of Missouri because he was black, and Missouri offered to pay his expenses for law school outside the state. The court decision meant that every state had to integrate students, or build a separate -and similar in quality- graduate school for blacks.

Chief Justice Hughes' ruling, reversing the Missouri Court, held that Mr. Gaines was entitled under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution to a legal education equivalent to that provided for white students and that he had not received "equal protection" of the laws by the offer of Missouri to pay his tuition in an adjacent State where there was no discrimination against black students. The argument advanced by the Chief Justice in this ruling was that by the operation of the laws of Missouri a privilege was created for white law students which was denied to Negroes by reason of their race. "The white resident is afforded legal education within the State; the Negro resident having the same qualifications is refused there, and must go outside the State to obtain it", said the ruling, and added: "That is a denial of the equality of legal right to the enjoyment of privilege which the State has set up, and the provision for the payment of tuition fees in another State does not remove that discrimination."

For the complete text of Gaines v. Canada ruling, see


The New York Times, December 13, 1938, 1:2.

Richard Wormser. Gaines v. Canada (1938), in The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.



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