The NAACP board of directors formally endorses Thurgood Marshall's view that the NAACP should devote its efforts solely to an all-out attack on segregation in education rather than pressing for the equalization of segregated facilities.

January
In Sipuel v. University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, 332 U.S. 631 (1948), a unanimous Supreme Court holds that Lois Ada Sipuel cannot be denied entrance to a state law school solely because of her race. In response, the University of Oklahoma designates an area in the state capitol as the "negro law school" and hires three black lawyers to be the faculty. In Fisher v. Hurst, 333 U.S. 147 (1948), the Supreme Court refuses to order the state to desegregate its law school, holding that it is the province of the district court to determine if the University of Oklahoma has followed the Court's mandate. On remand, the trial court gives the state the option of establishing a separate black law school. In 1949, Sipuel is finally admitted to the University of Oklahoma's law school, but she is forced to sit in a raised chair apart from other students behind a sign reading "colored." She is required to enter the law school from a separate entrance and to eat alone in the school cafeteria. She graduates from the law school in 1951.

February
President Truman sends a message to Capitol Hill calling for the enactment of some of his civil rights committee's recommendations, including an end to segregated schools and employment discrimination. He does not introduce any legislation.

May
In Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948), the Supreme Court holds that judicial enforcement of racially restrictive covenants in private housing violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

July
President Truman orders the desegregation of the Armed Forces. Army Chief of Staff Omar Bradley declares, "The Army is not out to make any social reform. The Army will not put men of different races in the same companies. It will change that policy when the nation as a whole changes it." Truman's order is not implemented until after the North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950. The process of desegregating the Army is not "complete" until 1954, at which point no unit is more than 50% black.

At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Southern delegates stage a walk-out to protest the civil rights plank of the party platform. Dissident members of the party form the States' Rights Party, also called the Dixiecrats. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina is their nominee for President.

October
In Perez v. Lippold, 198 P.2d 17 (1948), the Supreme Court of California holds that the state's ban on interracial marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

December
The United Nations General Assembly adopts and proclaims The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It provides that all people are entitled to basic human rights without regard for race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.