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Americans by Choice: The Story of Immigration & Citizenship in Kansas
Most Kansans can trace their heritage to another part of the world. Some came in search of a better life for themselves or their children—many came to join families or friends. Americans by Choice is a new exhibit on display until Feb. 28, 2014.
Education Curriculum Videos
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A Case for Equality Video
Accompanying video for Brown curriculum with closed captioning.
12 minutes, 50 seconds
Credit / Author:
Brown v. Board of Education NHS and Brown Foundation
Mrs. Zelma Henderson, Plaintiff: As a child, I went through an integrated school all through high school. I had good friends, we got along, there was no problem. But when I came to Topeka, my children had to go to a separate school for black students clear across town no matter how far—and I resented that. I knew that’s where they learned to play and understand and meet the other races – all races. They got to know one another before they’re taught otherwise. And that’s why I was happy to be a plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education.
Title: A Case for Equality Reading, Writing, and Resistance
Male African American teenager (Male): If we had lived during those times we might have been forced to go to different schools.
Female Caucasian teenager (Female): It would have been against the law for us to do a lot of things together. Schools weren’t the only places where the color of your skin would either let you in… or keep you out.
Male: America used to be a very different place. Imagine not being able to sit with everyone else when you saw a movie, went to the library, or got in a bus. It was called segregation, which means separation but it wasn’t just a separation. For almost 100 years, the lives of many black people were restricted by laws and by those who enforced them.
Mrs. Henderson: When I came to Topeka in about 1940 most jobs for women were maid work and… I don’t care how much education you had you know, it was maid work. They just did not have any openings for people of color. I was used to having equal rights and then all of a sudden I have half-rights, you know, or no rights at all.
Male: The United States, the land of the free. What happened?
Female: We all know that slavery existed in the United States for a long time. It began long before there was even a country called the United States. For hundreds of years, Africans were taken from their homes and villages. They were enslaved and transported across the Atlantic. They weren’t recognized as citizens by the Constitution and in some places, it was even illegal to teach enslaved people to read or write. Educational opportunities were also denied to many blacks who were free. After the Civil War, our country changed the Constitution. New amendments made slavery illegal. They granted full citizenship to people who had been enslaved and they guaranteed equal rights for all Americans. But many white people continued to deny African Americans their equal rights. Several states ignored the changes to the Constitution and passed new laws of their own that kept black citizens separated and excluded. Fighting segregation meant breaking the states’ laws. A man named Homer Plessy was arrested for sitting in the “white” section of a segregated train. He believed that if all people were truly equal in the eyes of the Constitution then he should be able to sit wherever he wanted. This important case called Plessy v. Ferguson went all the way to the Supreme Court. It ruled that laws separating blacks from whites were legal as long as both groups had a place of their own that was equal. But what did “equal” really mean and what about the new laws that restricted African Americans? The Supreme Court left this question up to the states to decide. Many states would use the idea of “separate but equal” to create an entire network of laws that allowed black men and women to be treated as second-class citizens. It took perseverance and courage to resist oppression. One group, called the N.A.A.C.P. the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People made it their mission to end segregation in this country.
Mrs. Henderson: N.A.A.C.P. was peaceful, and I liked that and… and that’s why I think I liked the organization. They were sort of the guard-persons, so to speak of our race and other people of color.
Male: Across the country the N.A.A.C.P. helped blacks and whites challenge segregation through the courts.
Female: Since the constitutional amendments stated clearly that all citizens were guaranteed equal treatment under the law the N.A.A.C.P. needed to prove in court that not only did the states’ laws separate blacks and whites – they also treated them in a way that was unequal.
Male: The N.A.A.C.P. focused its attention on segregated schools.
KANSAS Male: In Topeka, Kansas, most African American students had to travel farther than whites to attend elementary school often passing by “white-only” schools closer to their homes. Every day, in the morning and again in the afternoon they were made to feel like outsiders in their own town. The N.A.A.C.P. helped African American families challenge the Topeka School Board. In the Federal District Court, the judges agreed that separating black children in the public schools could create a feeling of inferiority – but they were not willing to overturn the state’s policy of segregation. The case was appealed. (Oliver L. Brown, et al. , v. The Board of Education of Topeka)
SOUTH CAROLINA Female: In South Carolina, black kids were not provided with transportation to school. White kids were. African American parents demanded that the state provide school buses for their children just as it did for white children. When requests for bused were denied the African American parents took the school board to court. (Briggs v. Elliott)
DELAWARE Male: Buses were also denied to black elementary school students in Delaware while older students had to ride long distances to attend high school. Their angry parents sued the school board. (Belton v. Gebhart, Bulah v. Gebhart)
VIRGINIA Female: In Virginia, a black high school didn’t have a gym, cafeteria, or infirmary. A student led 450 of her classmates on a strike to protest these obviously unequal conditions but the school board refused to listen so their parents took the school board to court. (Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County)
WASHINGTON, D.C. Male: In Washington, D.C., 11 black students were unable to register at a brand-new junior high school even though several classrooms were empty. As in all the previous cases the N.A.A.C.P. helped the parents sue the school board. (Bolling v. Sharpe)
Female: These five cases went all the way to the Supreme Court where they were combined. Named after one of the parents from Kansas this became known as Oliver L. Brown et al., v. the Board of Education of Topeka. It was now up to the Supreme Court to decide if segregation in public schools was constitutional. Attorney Thurgood Marshall and a team of lawyers handled the case for the N.A.A.C.P. They argued that segregated schools prevented African American children from having access to an equal education.
Male: On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court decided that forcing children to attend separate schools was harmful and denied them their equal rights.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren : We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place.
Male: They declared that separate but equal schools could never be equal.
Female: Segregation in schools was therefore unconstitutional and from that moment on, illegal.
Male: The following year, the Supreme Court ordered the states to put together plans to desegregate their schools. However, some of the states would not obey the court’s decision. They defied the federal government refusing to put an end to segregation.
Central High School, LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS Governor Orval Faubus: It will not be possible to protect the lives and property of the citizens if forcible integration is carried out tomorrow in the schools of this community.
Female Caucasian bystander: The minute they walk in, we walk out.
Elizabeth Eckford: The crowd moved in close and they began to follow me, calling me names. Then somebody starting yelling: “Lynch her! Lynch her! Drag her over to this tree.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower: Mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts.
Female: Ending segregation in schools was, and would continue to be a difficult and sometimes dangerous experience. But people across the country realized that if they could challenge segregation in schools and win then they could challenge segregation everywhere.
Mrs. Henderson: To me, we made a large stride in just this case, let alone the others – and we led the way for all the other civil rights suits and I’m just glad to have been a part of it.
Students: I pledge allegiance …
Mrs. Henderson: We’ve come a long way but there is a lot more that needs to be done, I’m sure.
Students: …to the republic for which it stands…
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: We are not wrong in what we are doing. If we are wrong, then the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong the Constitution of the United States is wrong.
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Accompanying video for Brown curriculum with closed captioning.
10 minutes, 31 seconds
Credit / Author:
Brown v. Board of Education NHS and Brown Foundation
Man: It’s hard to imagine such a time when so much oppression occurred.
Woman: I cannot imagine what it would feel like to be owned by another person. There weren’t any rights. The slaves were sold. What kind of rights do you have when you don’t have a right to go where you want to go? I mean, basically, you’re not free.
Man: The stories are many, and of course some treated slaves very well. But they were still slaves and they knew it. Any others, they were pieces of property. Even if one is well-treated, one is still not a full human being when one is a slave.
Woman: They probably lived in a lot of anger and disappointment. Sadness. Hoping that things would get better, but not really feeling for sure if they were going to or not.
Man: And these are grown people, and I think that was the worst part of it. It wasn’t the physical punishment or abuse that they suffered. It was the mental anguish, it was the type of psychological trauma that slavery caused, that really made it so bad.
Man: It was a terrible experience. I think that others who do not have that heritage just do not understand or comprehend.
Choir: We shall overcome some day.
Title: Dialog A Conversation between two or more people. An exchange of Ideas.
Chris Lovett: Civil rights is one of the most important events in American history, because what it did was, it led to the fulfillment of the American dream. With the advent of slavery and the inability of the founders to address that issue in 1776, and subsequently until 1865, the American dream was never completely fulfilled.
Title: A Dialog on Civil Rights Define Civil Rights
Justin Holstin: I think all people are all created inherently equal. And that’s what civil rights means to me, is protecting those rights of each individual.
Karen Manners Smith: For me it’s the sense in which the state supports equality of opportunity and equality of legal treatment for everybody.
Pamela Scott: I guess the capability to follow your dreams or achieve your goals. And not be held back just because you look different from someone else or you had different beliefs from someone else.
Nathaniel Eugene Terrell: It’s not just an American issue for blacks obtaining civil rights. It’s a world issue.
Title: Civil Rights come to America
Crystal Lynn Crowder: I’d like to think that they came over on the Mayflower. But I am practical enough to realize that they didn’t come over for everybody.
Holstin: I think that civil rights has always been an issue in the world. I don’t think you can point back to one time.
Teresa Lynn Clounch: It’s been around for some time. And maybe it was just brought to the forefront by Dr. King and others who fought so hard. And because our skin color is different shouldn’t stop us from being able to sit at the counter with someone else.
Smith: Civil rights has been trying to come to America for the entire history. I think certainly you get an awareness of it at the time of the framing of the Constitution.
T.J. Temphton: As long as there has been discrimination in American’s civil rights I guess the push to be for equality has always been in America.
Title: Separate Rights?
Lovett: In the 1890s, the Supreme Court ruled in a case known as Plessy v. Ferguson, that separate but equal is constitutional, as long as both facilities are on equal footing. This included public transportation, educational facilities, lodging, et cetera.
Holstin: Segregation comes along, where segregation is considered separate but equal, but in reality separate is never going to be equal.
Mario Porras: Separate, you know, bathrooms and drinking fountains, and people – they were considered lower than what… the white people in society.
Scott: I felt that slavery was similar to segregation, that there was the same kind of oppression that went on during slavery, but it was just on a different level.
Ron McCoy: You change a lot of the terms but the essential social structure remains very much the same.
Sam Dicks: So that separate dominated society of the 20th century -- part of it was of course the equal part, but the equal part never was equal.
Title: Equal Rights
Terrell: There’s a psychological segregation that we have to worry about back in the ‘60s, and during the Brown movement, where slavery – they couldn’t – they stop you. So you didn’t even have a choice. At least back in the ‘50s we can go before the courts and have some say-so.
Dicks: The law cases that went on through the 1930s and 1940s and so on, with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and other organizations, they’re the ones that laid the groundwork, which eventually gave the precedent in Brown v. Board of Education.
Lovett: Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights leaders came to the conclusion that what you had to do was attack the very institutions itself legally, by legal challenges. By the late 1940s it became evident that if you could attack segregated public schools as separate and not equal, you would be much more successful in ending segregation in the United States than anything else.
McCoy: The tone that was set was the non-violent moral commitment, and every other rights movement has been compared to the early African American Civil Rights Movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s, as a result of that tone having been set. So it’s not just about African American rights. It’s about everybody’s rights. And ultimately it’s not even just minority rights, it’s the rights of all people.
Title: Civil Rights to Human Rights
Lovett: in the mid-1970s the issue of civil rights transcended into a larger issue that we would know as human rights today. Today when we talk about civil rights, we’re really talking about human rights.
Heidi L. Hawkinson: Civil rights, I think, are human rights. It doesn’t matter – I mean, we’re all, you kow, we’re all one race. We’re all the human race. And no matter what color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, you know – whatever that you are, you’re still human.
Scott: With civil rights comes into play for me is the racial – or the ethnic groups, the religion, gender, that, you know, separate, I guess just being like being a basic human.
Gary Wyatt: But there’s enormous overlap here, in my view, and in some ways I would tend to see them as synonymous.
Crowder: Civil rights are under human rights – like a subsection of human rights.
Nneka Dodd: Human rights to me is for as how a person as an individual. Civil rights to me is as in the group. It’s based on, like, race, religion, gender.
Smith: Civil rights are something connected with the state and the government. Human rights are things which we, almost as a species, agree are things which we can protect on behalf of one another.
Porras: I think the difference between the two really isn’t.
Title: Right Now!
Dodd: We’ve come a long way. I believe that we’re not there yet. I believe that we need to, you know, need to do as far as more diversity programs, more cultural programs, just so we can understand each other. Because I still think that there is some misunderstandings between whites and blacks.
Wyatt: I think that in comparison to the rest of the global society, in some cases we’ve done well. But nevertheless, we’ve got a long ways to go.
Scott: eventually we’ll get to the point where everybody can come together and look at each other as, yeah, you’re different, but you’re no better or I’m no better than you are. You know, we can all be better together.
Temphton: You know, there doesn’t have to be this great divide just because we’re different. You know, that’s what makes us special and unique. And it makes the United States a wonderful place because we can meet lots of different diverse people from lots of different and diverse backgrounds.
Clounch: To have dialog with people that is not in a confrontive way – but learning about each other, sharing ideas with each other, that’s the best way we’re going to break down the barriers.
Porras: Talk with people. You know, if they don’t know nothing about somebody of a different race or lifestyle, you know, get to know them. Ask, you know, questions.
Holstin: Sometimes it’s very difficult to talk about issues like this, but we need to be able to face reality, and say this is what the issues are. This is why people are being discriminated against.
Terrell: Then maybe once we start defining terms and actually opening up a dialog, we can solve a lot of issues.
Wyatt: People need to develop the will to educate themselves, and then have the courage to act on that knowledge. Don’t laugh when you hear that racist joke. Examine your own soul when you make an attribution about somebody – whether it’s a woman or whether it’s a person who’s black or Hispanic. Be very careful. Recognize the potential for transcending these problems or recognize the potential to succumb to them. We have a world right now where people could go either way so easy. What does the future hold? I’m not sure.
Did You Know?
The Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision involved more than 150 plaintiffs from five states.--Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site