On this the 60th Anniversary of the momentous Brown decision, I would like to strongly recommend one of my favorite TV movies ever-Separate But Equal. This is the story of the court battles that led to the final Supreme Court decision, with Sidney Poitier playing Thurgood Marshall and Burt Lancaster in his final film role playing John W. Davis.
It is a powerful movie that also shows the internal debates on the court and how Former Governor Earl Warren’s (R-California) appointment as Chief Justice completely transformed the debate internally among the justices and externally in oral arguments.
Warren’s role in bringing about the changes of the 1950s and 1960s is well-known, but this movie demonstrates how reluctant the court was to make positive and progressive changes before Warren was thrust onto the scene. Literally one man changed America and taking his political approach he shook up what was a very quiet legalistic world of the jurist prior to his appointment.