The Significance of Brown v. Board of Education Essay examples
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In 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States was confronted with the controversial Brown v. Board of Education case that challenged segregation in public education. Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark Supreme Court case because it called into question the morality and legality of racial segregation in public schools, a long-standing tradition in the Jim Crow South, and threatened to have monumental and everlasting implications for blacks and whites in America. The Brown v. Board of Education case is often noted for initiating racial integration and launching the civil rights movement. In 1951, Oliver L. Brown, his wife Darlene, and eleven other African American parents filed a class-action lawsuit against the Board of Education…show more content…
The Thirteenth Amendment of 1865 abolished slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment of 1868 granted African Americans citizenship and equal protection under the law, and the Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 granted African Americans the right to vote. These amendments were passed in an effort to combat racism and reshape public perception of blacks, however, these laws were hard to enforce and Southern states developed their own laws like the Black Codes to control the newly freed slaves. Jim Crow-era laws in the South like the poll tax and literacy tests prevented many blacks in the South from voting. Anyone who tried to break Southern traditions was subject to violence and intimidation from the Ku Klux Klan.
The Great Migration was the mass movement of millions of African Americans to the Northeast, Midwest, and West around 1910 to1930. African Americans moved away from the South to escape segregation and violence in search of better opportunities. With the U.S. entering into World War I and troops being sent overseas, more job opportunities opened up for African Americans. Blacks enjoyed the unsegregated cities and the benefits that came along with it like better jobs, schools, and homes. African Americans also got more involved in politics and became an important constituency in the North because they were not prevented from voting and some even ran for political offices.
During World War I and World War II,
To help educators teach about the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, Education World offers this special lesson planning resource. Included: Links to more than 3 dozen lessons.
In the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling on May 17, 1954, the Court unanimously ruled that it was unconstitutional to separate students on the basis of race.
"Brown broke the back of American apartheid." So said Theodore Shore, associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "It was a case that finally breathed life into the 14th Amendment for African-Americans."
Education World has hunted down the best online lesson plans we could find for teaching students about this important case. One of the first places we looked was on Tolerance.org. There, we found a number of Brown v. Board of Education classroom activities and resources for students in grades 7-12:
The Landmark Supreme Court Cases, a joint offering from Street Law and The Supreme Court Historical Society, presents a handful of lesson plan ideas:
- Brown v. Board of Education Background
- Brown v. Board of Education: Does Treating People Equally Mean Treating Them the Same?
Think about several scenarios (provided) and discuss or write an answer to these questions: Does treating people equally mean treating them the same? What would it mean to treat people equally in these situations? (Grades 3-12)
- Brown v. Board of Education: Key Excerpts from the Majority Opinion
The decision was unanimous. Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the opinion of the Court. Excerpts and discussion questions included. (Grades 6-12)
- Brown v. Board of Education: Classifying Arguments for Each Side of the Case
Decide if each argument supports Brown's side against segregation, the Board of Education of Topeka's position in favor of segregation, both sides, or neither side. (Grades 6-12)
- Brown v. Board of Education: How a Dissent Can Presage a Ruling: The Case of Justice Harlan
Read excerpts from Justice Harlan's dissent and Chief Justice Warren's majority opinions. The justices clearly share the same opinion of the constitutionality of segregation. Can you determine how their opinions differ? (Grades 6-12)
- Brown v. Board of Education: Political Cartoon Analysis
Analyze political cartoons in terms of their relation to the Brown v. Board of Education case. What is the artist's message in the cartoons? Is there a political bias in the cartoons?
- Brown v. Board of Education: Conflict at Little Rock
Use questioning methods to explore the Little Rock integration crisis from the perspective of Central High School students. Also, explore the context for thinking about the crisis, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board, and the 1957 crisis in Little Rock. (Grades 6-12)
- Brown v. Board of Education: All Deliberate Speed?
Explore how quickly schools should be, and were, desegregated after the Brown v. Board decision. (Grades 6-12)
- Brown v. Board of Education: If You Were a Supreme Court Justice
Read descriptions of school segregation cases that came before the Supreme Court after the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Taking into consideration what you know about the spirit in which the Brown case was written, how would you decide each case?
The New York Times Learning Network offers several lessons of interest:
- Learning the Hard Way
Explore instances of segregated education around the world; support and refute the idea through debate and persuasive-essay writing. (Grades 6-12)
- Revisiting 'Separate But Equal'
Examine the notion of "separate but equal" by reading the New York Times front page from the Brown v. Board of Education decision and by researching different events, legislation, and organizations that influenced desegregation. (Grades 6-12)
- Schools of Thought on Segregation: Exploring Differing Viewpoints
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. (Grades 6-12)
ADDITIONAL LESSONS FROM MANY SOURCES
Following are additional lessons to extend your students' understanding of the history and ramifications of Brown v. Board of Education. (Image below courtesy of Joe Wolf via Flickr.)
Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan: Documents Related to Brown v. Board of Education
Use primary source material from the National Archives to learn about the 14th Amendment, primarily the equal protection clause, as well as the powers of the Supreme Court under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. (Grades 6-12)
From Jim Crow To Linda Brown: A Retrospective of the African-American Experience from 1897 to 1953
Simulate the Afro-American Council Meeting in 1898. Create a similar meeting of the Afro-American Council prior to the Brown case in 1954. (Grades 8-12)
Integrating Central High: The Melba Patillo Story
Read the story of one of the "Little Rock Nine." Imagine yourself in Melba's shoes. Think about being in a situation in which you are fighting to change the way things have always been. (Grades 5-7)
Brown v. the Board of Education
This activity booklet provides a summary and background for teachers, plus activities for young students. The background section can be used as a teaching tool for students in grades 3-up. (Grades 2-8)
Dialogue on Brown v. Board of Education
This resource from the American Bar Association (ABA) provides questions for starting a dialogue about what has been required -- and what has been achieved -- in pursuit of the goal of "equal protection for all Americans."
From Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education: The Supreme Court Rules on School Desegregation
Study the history of school desegregation legislation. Should the United States government legislate desegregation? Is racial mixing desirable and/or necessary in our educational system? (Grades 9-12)
School Desegregation and Prejudice in the United States
This unit offers a variety of activities that can be used as a whole or modified to fit a particular classroom situation. (Grade 5-8)
Segregation Before Brown
Create a color-coded map to illustrate segregation in the United States. Consider reasons for regional differences in segregation practices. (Grades 4-8)
- Brown v. Board of Education Timeline
The National Archives offers this resource tracing the events leading to the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
- School Integration: Introduction
This teacher-created resource looks at four communities' responses to Brown v. Board.
- Remembering Jim Crow
Read personal histories of segregation to get insight into what it was like.
- Brown v. Board of Education
The National Center for Public Policy Research provides this complete text of the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling.