Grades K-6: Fairness & Equal Treatment
A Famous Kansas Child
The court decided that the schools should continue to be segregated. Three judges had listened to the presentations. Although not all of them felt that this was the right thing to do, they felt they had no choice. Other cases that had been decided by the Supreme Court all supported the idea that separate-but-equal was okay, and this case seemed to fit the separate-but-equal guidelines.
The lawyers for the NAACP, Mr. Brown, and people in the other states with similar cases all decided to take this case to the Supreme Court. They said this case was different. The other cases were about transportation or students in college – not elementary school students. They said that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guaranteed everyone equal protection under the law, and that these elementary school students were not being protected equally. The case was called Brown v. Board of Education, ("v." stands for versus, which means against) and was argued before the Supreme Court in 1953. It was almost a year later – May 17, 1954 – when the justices made a decision.
It was one of the most important decisions made in the history of the United States, because it said that the previous cases – which may have been decided correctly in their time – were no longer correct in the 1950s. It said that separate was not equal, and that children of all races should be allowed to go to school together, in the schools in their neighborhoods.
Linda Brown never testified in court. But her father did, and so did many other people who had not even met her. Even though they were criticized by others, they worked hard for what they believed. Brown v. Board of Education is still one of the most famous cases in American history.
- Below are the names of some of the other famous people who participated in this case. Choose one name and read about that person. Share what you learn with your classmates.
- Thurgood Marshall
- John W. Davis
- Earl Warren
- Role-play the situation. Ask two students to pretend to be parents who still want segregation (white students and black students separated). Ask two other students to pretend to be parents who want integration (both races attending the same school). What would these parents say? How could each try to convince the others to change their minds?
A Famous Kansas Child
Additional Follow-Up Activity: Fact and Opinion
>>Fair or Unfair? Handout
>>"A Famous Kansas Child"
>>A Girl Named Linda
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