Brown v Board of Education

First Grade, Washington School, Topeka, Kansas, 1956
Joe Douglas Collection, Kansas Collection, University of Kansas Libraries

Web Resources


Timeline of the American Civil Rights Movement
This CNN site shows the evolution of the Civil Rights Movement beginning with Brown v Board of Education of Topeka. Included is information about 1954 Brown v. Board of Education, 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1957 Desegregation at Little Rock, 1960 Sit-in Campaign, 1961 Freedom Rides, 1962 Mississippi Riot, 1963 Birmingham and March on Washington, and 1965 Selma. It then looks back at early civil rights events beginning in the late 18th century.

Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education marked a turning point in the history of race relations in the United States. On May 17, 1954, the Court stripped away constitutional sanctions for segregation by race, and made equal opportunity in education the law of the land. Brown v. Board of Education reached the Supreme Court through the fearless efforts of lawyers, community activists, parents, and students. Their struggle to fulfill the American dream set in motion sweeping changes in American society, and redefined the nation’s ideals. This Smithsonian Exhibit tells the story.

Brown@50: Fulfilling the Promise
This rich Howard University site has primary material and court cases that prepared the way for the watershed Brown v Board of Education Topeka case. It also discusses companion cases and rulings related to educational equality that have come since.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
On May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren delivered the unanimous ruling in the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. In this milestone decision, the Supreme Court ruled that separating children in public schools on the basis of race was unconstitutional. It signaled the end of legalized racial segregation in the schools of the United States, overruling the "separate but equal" principle set forth in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case.

Executive Order 10730: Desegregation of Central High School (1957)
On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education that segregated schools were "inherently unequal" and ordered that U.S. public schools be desegregated "with all deliberate speed." Within a week of the 1954 decision, Arkansas was one of two Southern states to announce it would begin immediately to take steps to comply with the Brown decision. It proved a difficult and controversial task. The ensuing struggle between segregationists and integrationists, the Governor of the State of Arkansas and the Federal Government, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus became known as the "Little Rock Crisis." This executive order of September 23, 1957, signed by President Dwight Eisenhower, sent Federal troops to maintain order and peace while the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, AR, took place.

Supreme Court and 'Brown v. Board of Ed.':
The Deliberations Behind the Landmark 1954 Ruling
This National Public Radio site provides fascinating audio segments on the Brown v Board deliberations at the Court.

Brown vs Board of Education: In Pursuit of Freedom & Equality
This is an overview of the famous case and a traveling exhibit put together by the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, Topeka, Kansas.

The Education of Ruby Nell - by Ruby Bridges Hall, New Orleans, LA
This article by Ruby Bridges reflects on her experience in implementing the Brown v Board of Education decision in a southern segregated school. A federal judge decreed that Monday, November 14, 1960 would be the day black children in New Orleans would go to school with white children. There were six of us chosen to integrate the city's public school system. Two decided to stay in their old schools. The other three were assigned to McDonough. I would be going to William Frantz alone.

Brown v Board Digital Archive
Here is a digital archive of photos related to African American education under segregation during the Brown decision, and subsequent conflicts around its enforcement. These are fascinating and gripping materials but they require permission.

Bending Toward Justice:
The Unfinished Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education
Here is a series of articles from the School Boards Association including: Bending Toward Justice: The unfinished legacy of Brown v. Board of Education by Sally Banks Zakariya; The Ruling that Changed America. The Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education opened a new era — and with it, new hopes for racial equality by Juan Williams; The Role of Civic Virtue: Leaders in the fight against segregation put their faith into action for the greater good by Cecile S. Holmes; The New Diversity: Demographic shifts since Brown are changing the face of America's racial and ethnic landscape by Lawrence Hardy; Teaching Brown: In America's classrooms, discussions about race remain timely and relevant by Ruth E. Sternberg; Brown and the Dream Deferred: If our democratic experiment is to survive, we must teach our children the moral obligations of living in a free society by Phillip Boyle.

50 Years of Power and Struggle: NEA Today Feature Story
Brown v Board of Education was a watershed moment in American history—that remarkable day in May when the U.S. Supreme Court declared separate schools for Blacks and whites inherently unequal. Brown v. Board of Education would become etched in the public mind, but what really was its impact on students, the community, and particularly on NEA (National Education Association) members themselves?

Los Angeles County Office of Education – Brown v. Board

The Los Angeles County Office of Education, acting as a clearinghouse, has compiled a list of resources to educate students and the educational community about the 50th Anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, May 17, 2004, and its enduring legacy and challenges. Resources are organized within the following categories:
Curriculum/Lesson Plans, Books, Films/Video Resources, Journals/Articles, Web Sites, Court Cases, and Programs/Events

Protester wearing a desegregation sign outside Mecklenburg Co.
School Board, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Charlotte Observer


Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan:
Documents Related to Brown v. Board of Education
This National Archives lesson examines the issues and events surrounding the May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court unanimous ruling in the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. State-sanctioned segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th Amendment and was therefore unconstitutional. This historic decision marked the end of the "separate but equal" precedent set by the Supreme Court nearly 60 years earlier and served as a catalyst for the expanding civil rights movement during the decade of the 1950s.

The Right to Education for California's
Minorities and Immigrants Offline Lesson Plan
School segregation was not just an issue in the South. These court cases and laws passed in California illustrate the changing treatment of minorities and immigrants in California schools. Students examine these laws and cases to see changes in policies that segregated or excluded certain students from certain schools on the basis of their race or ethnicity.

Frontiers in Civil Rights: Dorothy E. Davis, et al. versus
County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia
The arguments presented in school desegregation cases of the early 1950s illustrate how the "separate but equal" doctrine presented in the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 virtually closed the civil rights frontier for nearly 60 years. Conversely, the decisions rendered in the desegregation cases opened up that frontier and encouraged the expansion of the civil rights movement in the latter half of the twentieth century. Examine the arguments in the Dorothy Davis case in the National Archives lesson.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
This lesson from Landmark Cases of the Supreme Court provides resources and lessons on these topics related to Brown v Board
  • Does Treating People Equally Mean Treating Them the Same?
  • Classifying Arguments for Each Side of the Case
  • How a Dissent Can Presage a Ruling: The Case of Justice Harlan
  • Immediate Reaction to the Decision: Comparing Regional Media Coverage
  • Political Cartoon Analysis
  • All Deliberate Speed?
  • Case Study of Integration - Little Rock
  • If You Were a Supreme Court Justice. . .

  • American Bar Association Commission on the 50th
    Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education
    This site has several classroom activities related to the Brown decision including: A Famous Kansas Child, the story of Linda Brown for grades K-6; A Girl Named Linda, Linda Brown&Mac185;s story and using photos for grades K-6; Can A Legal Decision Bring About Rapid Social Change?, a look at the resistance to Brown for high school; Dialogue on Brown v. Board of Education, a set of resources for fostering dialogue among students, teachers and the legal community; and Equality Under Law, determining definitions of equality for grades 7-9.

    Brown v. Board of Education Issue: Racial Segregation in Public Schools
    This PBS site has background on the Brown v Board Case, sites for further Internet study, the specifics of the issue before the court, a summary and excerpt of ruling, results of the ruling, and classroom discussion ideas.

    Revisiting 'Separate but Equal': Examining School
    Segregation 45 Years After Brown v. Board of Education

    In this two-day New York Times lesson plan, students examine the struggle for desegregation during the Civil Rights Movement and relate it to a current study that finds that American schools are reverting to segregation.

    Schools of Thought on Segregation: Exploring Differing
    Viewpoints on the Battle to Integrate America's Public Schools

    In this New York Times lesson, students analyze how education in America affects its youth and the nation by assessing a variety of ways in which American courts and communities are dealing with the unanimous Supreme Court ruling to end 'separate but equal' education.

    Constitutional Rights Foundation: Brown v. Board
    This is a selection of articles, many drawn from CRF’s award winning Bill of Rights in Action, related to issues of slavery, racism, and segregation with discussion questions for classroom use.

    Learning the Hard Way: Examining School Segregation Around the World

    In this New York Times lesson using an article entitled “Bulgaria Opens School Doors for Gypsy Children,” students explore instances of segregated education around the world, supporting and refuting the idea through debate and persuasive essay. It is a great way for world history classes to examine the issue of school integration in honor of the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

    The Race to Learn: Exploring the Historical Role of Race in Education

    In this New York Times lesson, students will learn about the history of education and race in the United States. By researching Supreme Court cases dealing with race and education, students will examine the ways in which institutions, federal and state governments, and the legislative branch have reflected changing social and cultural norms.

    Brown v. Board: What It Means Today
    Conduct interviews with people in your local community who experienced de jure segregation, who worked to overcome local school segregation or who advocate for contemporary school equity. Use Teaching Tolerance's interview questions as a starting point. Compile written interviews into a booklet; distribute copies to school board members and other community leaders. If audio is available, work with local radio stations to create student-produced segments on Brown.

    Print Resources

    ____ “50 Years Later: Brown v. Board of Education” in Teaching Tolerance, Spring 2004.

    ____ “Brown v. board of Education: Looking Back 50 Years” in Social Education, November/December 2003.

    Good, Diane L. Brown V. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone (Cornerstones of Freedom, Second Series). Children's Press, 2004

    Haskins, James. Separate But Not Equal: The Dream and the Struggle. Scholastic, 1998.

    Kelso, Richard. Days of Courage: The Little Rock Story. Steck-Vaughn, 1996

    Landman, James H. Brown v. Board of Education: Looking Back 50 Years in Social Education, January/February 2004, pp.17-24.

    Palokow, Amy. Daisy Bates: Civil Rights Crusader. Linnet Books, 2003.

    Somerlott, Robert. The Little Rock School Desegregation Crisis in American History (In American History). Enslow Publishers, 2001.

    SCORE 2005