Brown vs. Board of Education Nat'l Historic Site (Kansas)

Brown vs. Board of Education Nat'l Historic Site (Kansas)

Monroe Elementary School in Topeka Monroe Elementary School in Topeka

From the National Parks Conservation Association

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site commemorates the Supreme Court's landmark decision to end segregation in the country's public schools.

At one time, segregated schools were the norm in America. Schools were supposed to be equal, but black schools were inferior to white schools. Black children were not allowed to go to white schools, even those in their neighborhoods. Black children were expected to go to sub-standard black schools with outdated textbooks and no supplies, despite their distance from their homes.

In 1950, the Topeka, Kansas, chapter of the NAACP concocted a plan to challenge the "separate but equal" doctrine that governed public education. With the group's support, 13 frustrated parents tried to enroll their children in neighborhood schools. They were refused admission. Their 20 children were forced to attend one of Topeka's four schools for African Americans.

NAACP filed suit on behalf of the parents against the Topeka Board of Education in February 1951. Olivier Brown, whose third-grade daughter Linda, had to travel miles to a black school, despite a white school being only a few blocks away from her home, was the first parent name listed in the suit. The U.S. District court ruled against the plaintiffs.

The Topeka case was sent to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was combined with similar NAACP cases from Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. The combined cases became known as Oliver L. Brown et. al. vs. the Board of Education of Topeka (KS).

On May 17, 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared that separate but equal educational facilities violated the 14th Amendment, which guarantees all citizens "equal protection of the laws." The Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional.

Congress established the national park site on October 26, 1992. The site consists of Monroe Elementary School, one of four segregated elementary schools for black children in Topeka, and the adjacent lands.

The park offers exhibits and audio-visual presentations, and park staff present programs for visitors. Rangers from the site are available to visit classrooms to discuss the importance of the case, the park site, and the National Park Service.

The judgment to desegregate public schools is one the most important rulings the U.S. Supreme Court ever made. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site preserves and protects the places that contributed to the Supreme Court's ground-breaking decision that ended segregation in public schools and interprets the case's pivotal role in the civil rights movement.

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