Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Brown v. Board of Education

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision ruling that "separate but equal" public school segregation was in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, was an important first step in ending a long established practice in some states of forcing minority children (primarily African American) to attend substandard public schools in the same community where white students often received a more advantageous education at separate schools.

But the Court went a step further than pointing out financial differences in the segregated educational systems in the country as a reason for overturning "separate but equal." It also noted that even if racially segregated schools were on an equal fiscal plane the whole concept of using laws to separate children by race within a government supported system such as the public schools was wrong:

"Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does...

Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to [retard] the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial[ly] integrated school system...

We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment."
(from: Opinion of the Court delivered by Chief Justice Warren)

Brown v. Board was an important milestone in the long struggle for equality in the United States. The fact that it is fairly recent history and was well documented means that there is a wealth of resources on it. Below you will find some basic resources on Brown v. Board, the National Historic Site in Topeka and the Topeka parents and children who took a courageous stand against school segregation in our state.

Brown v. Board of Education
National Historic Site, Topeka, Kansas
(Established in Topeka, Kansas, on October 26, 1992, by the United States Congress to commemorate the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision aimed at ending racial segregation in public schools)
--Operating Hours & Seasons
--Fees & Reservations
--Schedule a School Field Trip
--Special Events
--Special Exhibits
--2009-2010 Program Schedule
--Centennial Initiative 2016

Brown Foundation For Educational Equality
(The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research was established in 1988 as a living tribute to the attorneys and plaintiffs in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1954 Brown v. Board of Education)

Photo Tour of the Brown v. Board National Historic Site
(From the Brown Foundation for Educational Equality)

Brown v. Board of Education (KSHS)
(Information supplied by and through the Kansas State Historical Society)

Brown v. Board of Education (Kansas Memory)
(Primary sources on Brown v. Board and school segregation in Kansas from the Kansas Memory website)

Kansas Memory Podcast
(Listen to interviews with Kansas participants in Brown v. Board)
--Charles I. Baston and Fred Rausch, Jr.
--Christina Jackson
--Maurita Davis
--Judge Robert Lee Carter

Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka Era Bibliography
(Further reources from the Kansas State Historical Society)

Interview with Linda Brown Smith
(Text of a 1985 interview with Linda Brown Smith, the daughter of Oliver Brown)

Eisenhower Presidential Library
Abiline, Kansas (Resources available from the Library)

Brown vs. Board
(Archived articles from the Topeka Capital Journal)

Looking Back: Brown v. Board of Education
(From National Public Radio)

Brown @ 50
(Howard University Law School website commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board in 2004)

"With an Even Hand"... Brown v. Board at Fifty
(An online presentation of an exhibit held at the Library of Congress in 2004)

Brown v. Board of Education
(An excellent Wikipedia article on Brown v. Board)

Brown v. Board:
Five Communities That Changed America
("Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plans" presented by the National Park Service)

Teaching With Documents:
Documents Related to Brown v. Board of Education
(From the National Archives)

Related Materials from the Library of Congress
(This presentation by the Library of Congress explores the question, What historical events led to the Supreme Court decision of 1954? by providing access to selected digitized historical information that enhances an existing research tool. Note! The photos at the top are no longer directly linked)

Article by: Bill Sowers
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