April 2004 NEA Magazine
Commemorating Brown v. Board
If you're planning a lesson on the Supreme Court's 1954 ruling banning segregation in public schools, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision next month, or just looking for good civil rights resources, take advantage of the range of lesson plans, Web sites, videos, and publications focused on this event.
On the Web
Horizons of Opportunities
For a brief overview of Brown v. Board, a summary of the state of desegregation in the nation today, and a school integration timeline, check out NEA's jam-packed site ' Horizons of Opportunities: Celebrating 50 Years of Brown v. Board of Education, May 17, 1954–2004 .' The site features a diversity timeline of NEA's support of and contribution to school integration and diversity, as well as a nationwide calendar of events commemorating Brown v. Board.
At the site you may order a classroom poster, in addition to accessing links to key reports, including:
- Brown at 50: King's Dream or Plessy's Nightmare?—NEA co-sponsored this 2004 Harvard Civil Rights Project report that examines the state of segregation in today's schools.
- Parsing the Achievement Gap—An ETS study presenting the links between student achievement and core factors that are often related to students' racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic status.
Horizons of Opportunities also links to another notable resource—the Smithsonian Institution. In May, the National Museum of American History debuts a new exhibit co-sponsored by NEA: "Separate But Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education ." To complement the exhibit, the museum will offer education programs and materials, including teacher resources for grades 4–12; school tours beginning fall 2004; a teacher workshop in the summer of 2004; and a Web site with a virtual exhibition and educational materials.
Teaching Tolerance Special Issue
Published twice a year, Teaching Tolerance magazine showcases innovative tolerance initiatives in schools across the country. The spring 2004 issue is a special anniversary edition of the Brown v. Board decision. Five articles and a timeline help students in grades 7–12 understand the legacy of the Supreme Court decision and the continuing struggle to integrate U.S. schools. Of particular note is a Q&A with prominent Americans (including Reg Weaver), who reflect on the legacy and impact of Brown v. Board . The magazine also includes classroom activity suggestions, project ideas, and resources that accompany the articles. The issue may be downloaded in PDF format . To subscribe to Teaching Tolerance , send a written request on school letterhead by mail or fax to: Teaching Tolerance, Order Dept., 400 Washington Avenue , Montgomery , AL 36104 ; fax 334-956-8486. Magazine subscriptions are free to educators.
National Archives Lesson Plans
The National Archives and Records Administration presents lesson plans built around key documents in its collection, including the judgment rendered in Brown v. Board. The site's activities let students work with the documents to discern the Court's intent. Issues from Eisenhower's presidency that may have affected the outcome of Brown v. Board are also addressed, such as the nomination of Chief Justice Earl Warren.
Another section on the site, " Frontiers in Civil Rights ," discusses a different 1950s civil rights court case, outlining activities in which students analyze historic photographs. Teaching activities are correlated to national standards and include bibliographies.
Dialogue on Brown v. Board of Education
The American Bar Association offers a guide to conducting a dialogue on Brown v. Board . The packet, which can be downloaded in PDF format and printed, includes discussion questions about the effects of the decision on students both then and now, as well as a series of discussions about other racial issues in education. Issues include the true nature of equality under the law, the role of schools in social change, racial preference in college admissions, and a discussion of who is guilty for the harms of slavery and segregation. The material can be used together or separately. Also included is a set of ground rules for participants, outlining appropriate behavior for discussing different viewpoints.
Civil Rights Chronology
A companion to Yale Law professor Jack Balkin's What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said (NYU Press, 2001), this Web site provides an exhaustive timeline of civil rights history. Covering the time period from 1502 when the first slaves arrived in the New World through 2000 when the Confederate flag was lowered from the state capitol in South Carolina , the timeline succinctly traces the steps leading to how we got to where we are today.
Civil Rights Lecture Notes
Educators can review this set of lecture notes from an online history class taught at the University of Wisconsin in Madison by Stanley Schultz. "Civil Rights in an Uncivil Society" describes the history of the civil rights movement from the 1920s through the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Also be sure to check out the "Hitchhiker's Guide to American History," which includes hundreds of links on various topics, including African Americans and civil rights.
Jefferson and Brown v. Board
This Web page from PBS discusses Brown v. Board of Education with Thomas Jefferson's belief in universal education in mind. In addition to providing a succinct summary of the issues facing the court, it urges students to consider the issue of de facto segregation, pointing out that—just as Thomas Jefferson believed in equal rights for all but still owned slaves—simply saying that something is wrong does not necessarily solve the problem.
Civil Rights and Our National Parks
Ever wanted to visit the places you read about in your history books? The National Park Service has compiled a map of important civil rights venues from the National Register of Historic Places . A click on any of the locations on the map reveals photos and a description of the events that transpired there. An overview of the civil rights movement can also be found on this site.
Examining the Issues
Help students understand the key issues of the Brown v. Board decision by visiting the Landmark Supreme Court Cases site . The site includes background information, excerpts from the Court decision, and student activities. Activities are organized according to how much instruction time a teacher has and range from simple reading and discussion assignments to moot court activities, political cartoon analysis, and Web site evaluation.
For the Younger Crowd
Created by The Brown Foundation, the Brown v. Board online activity booklet for young children includes a word search, an object hunt, and a maze that leads students to the U.S. Supreme Court. Each page includes a brief description of the activity's relevance to Brown v. Board and the civil rights movement. An online exhibit, " In Pursuit of Freedom: Kansas and the African American Public School Experience, 1855–1955 ," accompanies the booklet and features photographs with captions describing notable schools and figures in Kansas' struggle for equal opportunity in public education.
The Web site of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site of Monroe Elementary gives information about the historic school. Also, find out about Bolling v. Sharpe, Briggs v. Elliot , and other cases related to the Brown v. Board case.
Ruby Bridges Foundation
The official Web site of the Ruby Bridges Foundation brings visitors face-to-face with the now-grown 6-year-old girl who integrated New Orleans ' schools. Articles by and about Ruby Bridges are on this site.
NAACP Honors Brown
The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Web site commemorates Brown v. Board with a chronology of the case, background information, and articles describing the legacy of the famous ruling after 50 years.
National Public Radio presents a three-part series, which can be listened to online, that looks behind the scenes at the Supreme Court deliberations that produced the landmark 1954 ruling. Segments include:
"Bringing the Case to the Supreme Court," "The Court Gets a New Leader," and "The Justices Rule, and Face New Challenges." The site also links to other related NPR stories and Web resources .
Hear the Brown Decision
Tired of reading about the court case? Then listen to an excerpt of the Brown v. Board of Education decision as it is being read. This site also gives a brief background on Linda Brown and the Brown case .
Through Her Eyes
In Through My Eyes , Ruby Bridges tells her own story about how she, as a 6-year-old, became the first Black student ever at the William Frantz Public School in New Orleans , Louisiana , on November 14, 1960 . 64 pp. $5.95 from Scholastic. To order .
History of Brown
Brown v. Board of Education : A Brief History with Documents by Waldo E. Martin Jr. can supplement lessons on Brown. It offers versions of relevant legal briefs and court decisions. The paperback provides the social history brought to life by newspaper editorials, political cartoons, and other materials from the Brown decision era. 254 pp. $16.95 from Bedford / St. Martin 's. To order .
Oral History Guide
Keeping the Struggle Alive: Studying Desegregation in Our Town by Bernadette Anand, Michelle Fine, Tiffany Perkins, and David Surrey chronicles how students in a New Jersey public middle school learned about their community's history of desegregation through a project that had them not only researching, but interviewing townspeople who participated in the struggle to desegregate schools up North. The volume includes a curriculum guide for teaching oral history that can be adopted to any classroom and shows teachers how to perform social action projects that involve youth in the complex issues concerning race relations and integration. 96 pp., $12.95 from Teachers College Press. To order .
The Road to Brown
This 56-minute video from California Newsreel details the story of Black lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston, guiding high school students step by step from the world of "separate but equal" sanctioned by the Plessy Supreme Court decision through Houston's precedent-setting cases, which chipped away at Jim Crow education and set the stage for the Brown ruling. Schools can purchase the video for $49.95. Free preview copies are available for two weeks. To order .
A Separate Place
This hourlong documentary from the Hagley Library outlines the ambiguous legacy of segregation and desegregation in African-American education, focusing on schools built by P.S. du Pont. The video features contemporary images and compelling interviews with teachers and students. $10.95. To order .