• Exterior of Brown v. Board of Education NHS, the former Monroe Elementary School, at night.

    Brown v. Board of Education

    National Historic Site Kansas

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2011

Candlelight Vigil to Honor Victims of Gun Violence

Release date: January 5, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site will host a candlelight vigil to honor the memories of the victims of gun violence at 5 p.m. on January 8. All members of the community are invited to attend. Park Superintendent David Smith will lead the vigil.

The historic site recognizes the destructive effect gun violence has had on park neighbors with the recent shooting at Mo's Express. The vigil will also provide an opportunity for park staff to honor the memory of National Park Service Ranger Margaret Anderson, who died in the line of duty on New Year's Day. Anderson was shot to death at Mount Rainier National Park as she attempted to stop her eventual killer from proceeding into a crowded park with multiple firearms. These two tragic events are sad reminders that gun violence can affect any community and any neighborhood.

January 8 also marks the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in a Tucson area shopping center that resulted in six deaths. Candlelight vigils will be held across the nation to educate the public of the dangers of gun violence and to honor the memories of those lost.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information visit our website at www.nps.gov/brvb or call 785-354-4273.

 

New Exhibit Explores South Carolina Case Included in Brown Decision

Release date: January 11, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka – Community organizers and parents stood up for equal schools in Clarendon County, South Carolina in the 1940's and 1950's, just as they did here in Topeka. The story of one community's action and dedication is depicted in a new traveling exhibit entitled Courage: The Vision to End Segregation. The Guts to Fight for It.The exhibit is free and open to the public at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site through February 26.

Courage tells the powerful grassroots story of the Rev. Joseph A. De Laine and other brave citizens of Clarendon County, S.C., who initiated a lawsuit challenging racial segregation in public schools. Known as Briggs v. Elliott,the lawsuit would later become one of the five cases brought before the U.S. Supreme Court under the name Brown v. Board of Education.The watershed decision ruled that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional and initiated massive changes in race relations. Courage is a Levine Museum of the New South exhibit and was made possible by a generous grant from Bank of America.

All programs and exhibits are cosponsored by Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence, and Research and are part of the 2010-2011 program series titled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom:From Civil War to Civil Rights.For a list of all events and exhibits in the annual program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call 785-354-4273.

 

Free Black History Month Program Features Plaintiffs from Virginia Desegregation Case  

Release date: February 17, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS – On April 23, 1951, over 450 African American students, led by sixteen year old Barbara Johns, walked out of R.R. Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia. Protesting the dismal conditions of segregated schools, the student strike lasted two weeks and resulted in a lawsuit that would become one of the five cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court as part of Brown v. Board of Education. In defiance of the court order to desegregate, Prince Edward County, Virginia closed its public school system for five years, leaving 1700 African American students without public education. Three plaintiffs from the Davis v. Prince Edward County case will share their experiences and memories of the 13 year struggle for equal education in a free public program at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site at 3 p.m. on Sunday, February 27.

The free public program will begin with a screening of the documentary film, Farmville: An American Story. Following the screening, case plaintiffs Joy Speaks, John Watson, and Joan Johns Cobbs will speak about their involvement in the historic case and its effects on the local community. The participants will be joined by Dr. Terence Hicks for a panel discussion and question and answer session. Himself a graduate of Prince Edward County High School, Dr. Hicks is also an associate professor of research in the Department of Educational Leadership at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. He is co-editor of The Educational Lockout of African Americans in Prince Edward County, Virginia (1959-1964). Books will be for sale and available for signing by program participants immediately following the program. To RSVP by February 25, please e-mail the Brown Foundation by clicking here or call (785) 235-3939.

Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County is unique among the five lawsuits heard by the U.S. Supreme Court as part of Brown v. Board of Education. The case was the only one initiated by students. The struggle for equal education in Prince Edward County unfolded over thirteen years: from the student walkout in 1951, to the landmark Brown decision declaring segregation unconstitutional in 1954, to Prince Edward County's five year school closure beginning in 1959, to the re-opening of the public school system in 1964. The closure of the county's schools was part of the South's "Massive Resistance" to court ordered desegregation and drew attention from across the nation. In a speech commemorating the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy eloquently stated, "We may observe with much sadness and irony that, outside of Africa, south of the Sahara, where education is still a difficult challenge, the only places on earth not to provide free public education are Communist China, North Vietnam, Sarawak, Singapore, British Honduras and Prince Edward County, Virginia. Something must be done about Prince Edward County."

This program is co-sponsored by Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence, and Research and is part of the 2010-2011 program series titled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: From Civil War to Civil Rights. For a list of all events and exhibits in the annual program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785) 354-4273.

 
Merle Hudson, Gertrude Clemons Hudson, and Joyce Clemons Kittrell, plaintiffs in Clemons v. Board of Education of Hillsboro, Ohio, 1956.

Merle Hudson, Gertrude Clemons Hudson, and Joyce Clemons Kittrell, plaintiffs in Clemons v. Board of Education of Hillsboro, Ohio.

In Celebration of Women's History Month Park Features Quilt Exhibit and Dramatic Play, The Hillsboro Story  

Release date: February 28, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS – In celebration of Women's History Month, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site will feature two exciting public programs. On display beginning March 1 is Sankofa: Lessons Learned, a spectacular exhibition of quilts created by local quilt artist, Marla Jackson. In commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the Hillsboro, Ohio desegregation case, the park will also host a performance of the dramatic play, The Hillsboro Story at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 6. All programs are free and open to the public and will take place at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.

From March 1- March 30, the park will feature Sankofa: Lessons Learned. Each of the sixteen quilts on display represents women as they move through their lives, learning lessons of joy, loss, family, and love. Originally from Royal Oak Township in Michigan, Jackson spent many weekends and summers with her paternal grandparents, Rufus and Zelma Crum and her formerly enslaved great-grandmother, Lucille Crum. Her artistic direction was influenced by her family's stories, and her quilts depict scenes and themes that capture the pride, spirit, pain, and joy of the African American experience. The primary goal of her work is to reveal the untold stories of heroes that history has overlooked, forgotten, or hidden. The exhibit is free and open to the public daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and will also be open for the First Friday Art Walk on March 4, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The Hillsboro Story is a powerful drama that opens in Hillsboro, Ohio on July 5, 1954 when the town's segregated elementary school erupts into flames. Despite an 1887 law outlawing segregated schools in Ohio, the Hillsboro school board created a segregated school when it transferred all African American students in the integrated Webster School to Lincoln Elementary School in 1939. With the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, parents assumed their children would be able to attend the all-white Webster and Washington schools. When the school board resisted integration, one man set fire to the all-black Lincoln school, in hopes of hastening an end to segregation. The action sparks a two-year battle resulting in Clemons v. Hillsboro Board of Education. Playwright Susan Banyas was a third-grader in Hillsboro when this powerful story began to unfold. Her play weaves together spoken word, movement, monologue, and visual imagery that is culled from historical research and interviews with individuals at the center of the story. Seating is limited for this performance. Please RSVP by March 4 via email by clicking here or by calling (785) 235-3939.

Programs are co-sponsored by Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and the Brown Foundation for Educational, Equity, Excellence, and Research and are part of the 2010-2011 program series titled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: From Civil War to Civil Rights. For a list of all events and exhibits in the annual program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785) 354-4273.

 

Play Depicts One Ohio Community's Struggle to End Segregation

Date: March 16, 2011

On March 6, approximately sixty people filled the auditorium at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site for the staging of a dramatic play entitled The Hillsboro Story. At the conclusion of the 90-minute play, the cast and playwright facilitated a 45-minute talkback session, allowing audience members to ask questions about The Hillsboro Story and share their own thoughts on race, education, and history in their own lives and communities.

The play opens in Hillsboro, Ohio on July 5, 1954 when the small town's segregated all-black elementary school erupts in flames. Despite an 1887 law outlawing segregated education in the state of Ohio, the Hillsboro school board created a segregated system in 1939 when it transferred all African American students from the integrated Webster Elementary School to the predominantly black Lincoln Elementary School.

When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down segregated public schools in Brown v. Board of Education, parents in Hillsboro assumed that children would be able to attend the school closest to their home. When the school board failed to integrate, local resident Philip Partridge set fire to the all-black Lincoln School in an attempt to hasten the process. The continued delays on the part of the school board and the conviction and imprisonment of Partridge sparked a two-year struggle that saw the organization of the Marching Mothers, peaceful demonstrations, and the creation of home and church schooling program for African American children. In 1956, the courts decreed in Clemons v. Hillsboro Board of Education that any child not in public school be granted immediate admittance on a non-segregated basis.

Playwright Susan Banyas was a third grader in Hillsboro and remembers these actions literally taking place outside her classroom window. Most of the text for The Hillsboro Story was developed from more than 50 interviews conducted in the last six years with the primary participants in the event, their families and friends, and from national voices representing the civil rights movement. The dramatic recreation of this piece of Ohio history powerfully illustrates both the local and national impacts of the Brown decision.

The lively talkback session took a dramatic turn even for the cast and playwright, when they learned that sitting in the front row were Leola Brown Montgomery and Linda Brown Thompson, the wife and daughter of the case's namesake, Oliver Brown. The Hillsboro Story continued on a Midwestern tour, which included stops at Hillsboro Middle and High Schools and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

 

Civil War Symposium to Feature Four Renowned Civil War Historians

Release date: March 20, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS –The 150th anniversary of the Civil War will be commemorated across the nation from 2011-2015. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site will kick off the anniversary with a symposium featuring four outstanding Civil War historians: Dr. David Blight, Dr. Dwight Pitcaithley, Arnold Schofield, and James Denny. Audience members can listen to presentations, ask questions, and interact with Civil War scholars and enthusiasts, as well as purchase books and have them signed by visiting historians. The symposium will be from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 27, with pre-event book signing beginning at 12:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The four speakers will present insights into the bitter conflict that produced "a new birth of freedom" in the country when the chains of bondage were released from four million enslaved men, women, and children. Collectively, the four speakers will present a national picture of the war as a turning point in history, examine the war's many relevant legacies, and shed light on the regional war that raged along the Missouri and Kansas border in the 1850s and 1860s.

Dr. David Blight is the director of Yale University's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, a professor of history at Yale, and author of numerous books, including the award winning Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory. Dr. Dwight Pitcaithley is the former Chief Historian of the National Park Service and an expert on the secession conventions of the South. Arnold Schofield is a former park historian of Fort Scott National Historic Site and an authority on the Civil War era in Missouri and Kansas. James Denny is a Missouri based historian and co-author of The Civil War's First Blood: Missouri, 1854-1861.

Programs are cosponsored by Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and the Brown Foundation for Educational, Equity, Excellence, and Research and are part of the 2010-2011 program series titled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: From Civil War to Civil Rights. For a list of all events and exhibits in the annual program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link. To RSVP for this event by March 25, please e-mail the Brown Foundation by clicking here or call (785)235-3939. Seating is limited.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785) 354-4273.

 

Meet John Brown and Explore the Battle of Black Jack at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Release date: March 30, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS – On June 2, 1856 abolitionist John Brown led his free-state militia in a victorious attack on the camp of a pro-slavery force in eastern Kansas. While the Civil War officially began on April 12, 1861 when Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, South Carolina, some consider the 1856 Battle of Black Jack to be the first fight of the Civil War. From April 1-29, the park will host a new traveling exhibit entitled The Battle of Black Jack. On April 17, Kansas native Kerry Altenbernd will portray the fiery abolitionist John Brown and share the battle's history in a free public program at 3 p.m. at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.

Kerry Altenbernd, portraying the abolitionist John Brown, will tell the history of the Battle of Black Jack, how it fit into Brown's life story, and its place in the war on slavery. Afterwards, Altenbernd will discuss the effect of the battle on American history, as well as the current preservation activities for the Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park. Altenbernd is a third generation native of Douglas County, Kansas. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Black Jack Battlefield Trust since its creation in 2003 and is currently the Tour Coordinator for the Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park. He is also actively involved with the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area and has been performing first-person interpretations of John Brown since 2006.

Created by the Black Jack Battlefield Trust, The Battle of Black Jack exhibit opens with an exploration of the lives of John Brown and the leader of the pro-slavery force, Henry Clay Pate, as well as the men who fought beside them. It also explores the territory surrounding the battlefield and its use as part of the Santa Fe Trail, and the story of battle veteran Robert Hall Pearson's return to farm the area. The exhibit is free and open to the public daily through April 29.

The program and exhibit are cosponsored by Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Western National Parks Association, and the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, and are part of the 2010-2011 program series titled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: From Civil War to Civil Rights. For a list of all events and exhibits in the annual program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link. To RSVP for the John Brown event on April 17, please e-mail the Brown Foundation by clicking here or call (785) 235-3939 before April 15.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call 785-354-4273.

 
Superintendent David Smith

Superintendent David Smith

David A. Smith Selected to Lead Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Date: April 28, 2011
Contact: Patty Rooney
Phone: (402) 661-1532

Omaha, Neb. — The National Park Service (NPS) has appointed David Smith, a Legislative Affairs Specialist in the NPS Washington, D.C., Office, as the next Superintendent of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kan. This new assignment takes effect July 3.

"David is an ideal selection for this leadership position at Brown v. Board," said George J. Turnbull, acting director for the NPS 13-state Midwest Region. "The breadth of David's park experience, as well as his service to Congress and in the NPS Washington, D.C., Office as a Bevinetto Congressional Fellow will serve him very well," he added.

Smith began his NPS career as a seasonal interpreter, then a supervisory environmental education specialist, at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado, working the off season at Point Reyes National Seashore. In 1994, he began his first commissioned position as a back country ranger at Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Following a one-year break from the NPS, during which time he completed the Federal Law Enforcement Training Course and received his commission as a federal agent, Smith worked with the U.S. Border Patrol. He returned to the NPS as a biological technician at Cabrillo National Monument, California. Smith transferred to Joshua Tree National Monument, California, for a position as interpretive ranger. In 2001, he began work as the interpretive specialist for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, working from the trail office in Oakland, Calif.

In 2005, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona became home to Smith, then a district interpreter supervising a staff of 20 interpretive rangers. While at the Grand Canyon, Smith was selected as one of two 2010 Bevinetto Congressional Fellows. The two-year training and development program for mid-career professionals provides the opportunity to be involved in the interaction between Congress and the NPS on key policy issues. Smith headed to Washington, D.C., to work on the House Committee for National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands, followed in 2011 by his current assignment with the NPS Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs.

In addition to his selection as a Bevinetto Congressional Fellow, Smith was honored with the 2005 National Freeman Tilden Award for Excellence in Interpretation. Smith also graduated from the Intermountain Regional Generating Organizational Advancement and Leadership Academy, specializing in outreach to diverse audiences.

Smith is trained in high angle technical rescue, is a nationally certified EMT-B, an AHA First Aid/CPR instructor, an NPS certified structural firefighter, and an Operational Leadership Instructor. He is fluent in both French and Spanish.

Of this new assignment, Smith said, "At a time when we are seeing economic segregation in school districts across the country, the story at Brown is just as important to students today as it was in 1954. What an honor to be entrusted with this story and to be able to share it with the next generation of Americans."

Born and raised in San Diego, Calif., Smith graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1990, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Development Studies. During his time at the Grand Canyon, he completed his Masters of Science in Resource Interpretation at the Stephen F. Austin University. He met his spouse, John Evans, while at Berkeley, and they delight in raising their son and daughter, Dante, 9, and Jakiah, 7. They share the household with their dog Tori, as well.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site was established by Congress on October 26, 1992, to commemorate the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended segregation in public schools. The site, which was dedicated on May 17, 2004, interprets the integral role of the Brown v. Board of Education case in the civil rights movement.

 

New Exhibit Commemorates Attorneys Who Argued Brown v. Board of Education

Date: May 5, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS – A new exhibit entitled Argument: The Attorneys of Brown v. Board of Education is now open at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The exhibit presents the stories and viewpoints of the trial attorneys who argued their cases in what would be one of the most transformative U.S. Supreme Court decisions in American history. The exhibit is free and open to the public daily at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site through May 30.

Representing parents and students in four states and the District of Columbia, a team of dedicated African American and white lawyers attacked segregation in public schools and the institution of segregation itself. While the Brown decision did not immediately end segregation in the nation's public schools, the ruling was a powerful symbol of using law for social change. The case inspired and provided a model for generations of future lawyers in the civil rights movement. On the opposite side of the courtroom, lawyers defended the segregation laws of their states and districts. Some defenders of segregation were renowned attorneys and politicians, while others like Kansas Assistant Attorney General Paul E. Wilson were making their first appearance before the nation's highest court.

The exhibit was created by Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site staff and commemorates the 60th anniversary of the filing of the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit in Topeka. The exhibit is part of the 2010-2011 program series titled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: From Civil War to Civil Rights. For a list of all events and exhibits in the annual program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785) 354-4273.

 

Call for Artists: Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom

Date: May 23, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS – Calling all Kansas artists! Area artists are encouraged to submit two-dimensional art between now and June 24 that expresses American stories of sacrifice, struggle, and triumph in the pursuit of freedom and equality. Two distinguished jurors will select 25 works based on the art's quality and connection to the exhibit theme. The selected artwork will be displayed at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site from August 1 to September 29, with cash prizes awarded to the top three selections.

Submissions must relate to the theme of commemorating our nation's struggle for freedom. Since the founding of the United States in 1776, the American people have struggled to overcome racism, prejudice, and discrimination. Many American stories exemplify the long struggle to provide freedom and equality for all Americans. One of these stories is the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education,which declared racial segregation in public schools inherently unequal. Interested artists can find entry requirements and forms at www.nps.gov/brvb or by calling the National Park Service at (785) 354-4273. Submissions will be accepted through June 24 and only in the digital formats specified.

The jurors for the art competition are Sherry Best and Cindi Morrison. Sherry Best is the director of the Alice C. Sabatini Galley at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library in Topeka, Kansas. She joined the library in 2003 after teaching photography and art history at Rockhurst University and serving as the director of the Greenlease Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri. Cindi Morrison is the director of the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. She coordinates exhibitions, educational programs, and special events with Washburn University and the Friends of the Mulvane Art Museum. She has dedicated her thirty-year career to arts management at a variety of nonprofit visual art organizations.

The competition and exhibition are sponsored by the National Park Service, Western National Parks Association, ARTSConnect Topeka, and the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research and is part of the 2010-2011 program series entitled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: From Civil War to Civil Rights. For a list of all events and exhibits in the program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785) 354-4273.

 

Forging Freedom's Pathway: Living History Walks from Ritchie House to Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site on June 11

Date: May 29, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS – From conflicts leading to the Civil War to the birth of the civil rights movement, Topeka has played a central role. As part of Savor Topeka, all are invited to attend a free living history walk from the John Ritchie House to Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site on Saturday, June 11. The walks will feature living history reenactors from territorial Kansas through the historic Brown decision, who will portray evolving views of race and freedom that developed in Kansas. The walks will begin at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site at 9:00 a.m. with the final walk departing at 11:30 a.m.

Walks will begin at the Brown site, where participants will ride a free shuttle to the Ritchie House, and walk the half-mile back, stopping with a park ranger along the way to meet characters from 1854 to 1954. Shuttles and tour groups will depart approximately every 15 minutes. Space is limited and tours are first-come, first-served. Two musical groups will alternate performances at the event. Civil War era music will be provided by the Kaw Valley Cornet Band. An acoustic quartet will provide both Civil War and civil rights era music, including some sing-alongs. Children's activities will also be available at the Brown site.

The Lecompton Reenactors and National Park Service rangers will portray characters including abolitionist John Brown, pro-slavery politician David Rice Atchison, and supporters of racial segregation and integration. These stories and others illustrate the central role Kansas played in the emergence of both the Civil War and the civil rights movement.

The program is sponsored by Shawnee County Historical Society, the Lecompton Reenactors, Western National Parks Association, Visit Topeka, and the National Park Service. For a list of all events and exhibits, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785)354-4273.

 
Three images from the freedom Rides: a greyhound bus with smoke coming out of the door, and mug shots of Helen Singleton and Robert Singleton.
 

Former Freedom Riders Will Share Historic Journey

Release date: June 20, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - On June 26, Robert and Helen Singleton will recount the experience of participating in the Freedom Rides of 1961. They will be joined by writer and photographer Eric Etheridge and Topeka High graduate Will Dale, who recently participated in a re-creation of the historic Freedom Rides. The program is free and open to the public and will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 26 at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Seating is limited and RSVPs are strongly recommended. Please RSVP to the Brown Foundation by June 24 by clicking here or call (785) 235-3939.

Robert and Helen Singleton joined the Freedom Rides in the summer of 1961 to challenge segregation in the Deep South. This May, they participated in a multi-day re-creation of the Freedom Rides, helping forty students to understand the significance of the Freedom Rides. Will Dale, a Topeka High graduate and student at the University of Kansas, was one of the student participants and was selected from a pool of nearly one thousand national and international applicants. The event was sponsored by the PBS series American Experience, which released a documentary film titled "Freedom Riders."The June 26 program will feature clips of the "Freedom Riders" film, in addition to the featured speakers.

Breach of Peace, an exhibit featuring historic mug shots and modern portraits of 16 Freedom Riders will also open on June 26. The exhibit is free and will be open to the public daily through July 24. Photographer and writer Eric Etheridge is a native of Jackson, Mississippi and the author of Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Freedom Riders. His book features the mug shots of over 80 Freedom Riders, who were arrested in Mississippi and imprisoned at the Parchman Farm in the summer of 1961, along with contemporary portraits of riders taken by Etheridge.

The photographic exhibition and program are co-sponsored by the National Park Service, Western National Parks Association, Kansas City Public Television, and the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research and is part of the 2010-2011 program series entitled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: From Civil War to Civil Rights. For a list of all events and exhibits in the program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785) 354-4273.

 
Living history walks featured six reenactors portraying characters from 1854 to 1954 and linked neighborhood 
stories to national stories of Civil War and civil rights.

Living history walks featured six reenactors portraying characters from 1854 to 1954 and linked neighborhood
stories to national stories of Civil War and civil rights.

NPS\Cheryl DeShazer

Forging Freedom's Pathway

Date: June 24, 2011

On June 11, visitors leisurely strolled five blocks with uniformed park rangers from the historic Ritchie House to the formerly segregated Monroe Elementary School, meeting six costumed reenactors along the way. Beginning at the home of prominent abolitionists and operators on the Underground Railroad and ending at a formerly segregated elementary school, visitors walked symbolically through time from the birth of the Civil War to the birth of the civil rights movement.

Operated by the Shawnee County Historical Society, the Ritchie House was home to John and Mary Jane Ritchie, early settlers of Topeka who immigrated to Kansas Territory in 1855 to aid the free state cause. The Ritchies were comrades of John Brown and active in the Underground Railroad. After the Civil War the Ritchies gave away and sold land to African Americans seeking a new start in Kansas. This led to a predominantly black neighborhood that came to be known as Ritchie's Addition. Built in 1926 as part of a massive school expansion project, the Monroe Elementary school was built on land once donated by Ritchie. Monroe was one of the four African American elementary schools operating in Topeka in 1951 when the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit was filed. The restored school now serves as the visitor center for the national historic site.

Beginning with abolitionist Mary Jane Ritchie in 1854, visitors met six characters that portrayed evolving views of race and freedom in Kansas. Other characters included David Rice Atchison, a pro-slavery Senator from Missouri; Clarina Nichols, an abolitionist and women's suffrage activist; Nathan Holder, an African American Civil War veteran and Topeka resident in the 1880s; and Chester Woodward, a member of the Topeka Board of Education in 1930. The concluding character, portrayed by Ranger Joan Wilson, was Julia Roundtree, an African American educator and activist in Topeka who discussed the lawsuit filed in 1951 that would end legal segregation. Though visitation was not as high as hoped, the event received excellent coverage by local print, radio, and television. Local PBS affiliate KTWU was onsite and is producing a segment for their popular program, Sunflower Journeys, to air later this year. The segment will focus on the story of Julia Roundtree.

The program was a cooperative effort by the National Park Service, the Shawnee County Historical Society, the Lecompton Reenactors, and Western National Parks Association. Period Civil War music was provided by the Kaw Valley Cornet Band and an acoustic trio featuring park staff and volunteers provided Civil War and Civil Rights era music. Park rangers from Harry S Truman NHS and Tallgrass Prairie NP also provided assistance before and during the event.

 
Image of Tulsa with a man walking through destroyed buildings, and Elisha Scott.
 

Topeka Connection to Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 Remembered in Free Public Program

Release date: July 12, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - Ninety years ago, a violent race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma ended with the deaths of nearly 300 African Americans and left thousands homeless when the Greenwood neighborhood was burned to the ground. Victims received no compensation for their losses. African American attorneys, like Topeka's Elisha Scott, worked on behalf of victims who lost homes and relatives. A documentary film entitled The Tulsa Lynching of 1921: A Hidden Story will be shown, followed by a discussion of Elisha Scott's efforts to assist riot victims, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 17 at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The program is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to the Brown Foundation by July 15 by clicking here or calling (785) 235-3939.

The Tulsa Lynching of 1921: A Hidden Story was produced, written, and directed by Michael Wilkerson and initially released in May 2000. The film includes interviews with survivors of the riot and the continuing struggle for compensation. Following the film, National Park Service historian Thom Rosenblum will discuss the role of African American attorney Elisha Scott of Topeka in seeking justice for African Americans who lost homes and loved ones. Elisha Scott also argued numerous cases to end segregation in public schools. His two sons, Charles and John Scott, were lawyers in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. Rosenblum is currently writing a book on the Scott family lawyers and their civil rights legacy.

The film screening and discussion are cosponsored by the National Park Service and the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research and is part of the 2010-2011 program series entitled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: From Civil War to Civil Rights. For a list of all events and exhibits in the program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785) 354-4273.

 

Local Artists Depict Struggles for Freedom and Equality

Release date: July 25, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS -Thirteen area artists will be featured in a juried exhibition at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site commemorating our nation's struggle for freedom and equality. The exhibit is free and open to the public daily from August 1 to September 30, including special hours from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the First Friday Artwalks. The three winning artists will also be recognized and awarded prizes at 6 p.m. during the Artwalk on August 5.

Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, a strong thread in the nation's fabric has been the story of overcoming prejudice, discrimination, and racism so that all Americans can enjoy "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." This exhibition features local artwork that communicates these struggles for freedom and salutes the people who have helped move the nation toward the promise of its founding: the promise of equality for everyone.

Exhibit jurors were Sherry Best of the Alice C. Sabatini Galley at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library and Cindi Morrison of the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University. They selected the winning artwork and commented, "We were glad to see such a mix of artists entering: people who have been making art for years and people who are young and just starting out. We were encouraged to see such a variety in interpretation also: from historic to contemporary issues of equality. We want to further encourage these artists to keep pursuing their work and to keep working to make America a wonderful nation." The winners are: 1st Place: E. Vincent Wood III for Per Aspera; 2nd Place: Jeff Pulaski for Frederick Douglass Poster; 3rd Place: Kristine Luber for Black v. White.

The exhibition is sponsored by the National Park Service, Western National Parks Association, ARTSConnect Topeka, and the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research and is part of the 2010-2011 program series entitled Commemorating Our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: From Civil War to Civil Rights. For a list of all events and exhibits in the program series, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785) 354-4273.

 
From Mexico to America Exhibit-2

Exhibit Features Local Artists in Commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month

Release date: October 6, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with the opening of a new exhibit on Friday, Oct.7, 2011. From Mexico to America: Through the Eyes of Kansas Artists features local artists Joey Rocha and Andy Valdivia and depicts stories of migration from Mexico to Topeka. The exhibit will kick off with a free, public reception from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7. Light refreshments will be served and music will be performed by Flamenco guitarist Raul Gomez.

Following the period of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) many Mexicans came north in search of better opportunities in the United States. By 1930, a sizable Mexican American population existed in urban centers in Kansas. Finding work, raising families, and building communities are all threads that are part of the local and national fabric of our nation. The exhibit features original paintings and collages depicting the artists' family histories and stories of migrations from Mexico to Topeka. "We are delighted to partner with local artists to highlight this important migration story," said Park Superintendent David Smith. "This exhibit depicting Mexican American history and culture will provide our park visitors with an educational opportunity to understand some of the rich diversity of people who call Kansas home."

From Mexico to America: Through the Eyes of Kansas Artists will be open on Oct. 7 and Nov. 4 for the First Friday Artwalks from 5 to 9 p.m. Artists will be onsite during the Artwalks to discuss their works and the stories that inspired them. The exhibit is free and open to the public daily from Oct. 7 to Nov. 30. The site is closed Thanksgiving Day. The exhibition is sponsored by the National Park Service and the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research. For a list of all events and exhibits, please visit www.nps.gov/brvb and click on the Special Events link.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call 785-354-4273.

 

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Seeks Public Input

Release date: October 19, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site is seeking input from the community at an Open House on Wednesday, Nov. 2 from 4 to 7 p.m. The National Park Service would like to hear ideas about how to better provide visitor and education services for the community. The Open House is informal. Visitors can stop by for as little or as long as they like. Light refreshments will be provided.

What would you like to learn, see, and do at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site? Visitors will be encouraged to share what they think is important to preserve and share. Comments and suggestions will be incorporated into a Long Range Interpretive Plan that is currently being developed. The plan will outline goals and strategies for preserving and sharing the many important stories of Brown v. Board of Education. "We need to hear from the community about ways to better engage our park visitors and our park neighbors," said Supterintendent David Smith. "This planning process will provide us with strategies to be more relevant and effective. Our National Parks belong to every American and they tell our collective stories. We depend on our constituents - the owners of these parks - to help us make Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site the type of park that helps meet their needs."

 

Entrance Fees Waived at National Park Sites for Veterans Day Weekend

Release date: November 8, 2011
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS -Entrance fees at National Park Service sites across the nation will be waived from Nov. 11-13, 2011 in honor of Veterans Day, including the five National Park sites of Kansas. The five sites in Kansas are Nicodemus National Historic Site, Fort Larned National Historic Site, Fort Scott National Historic Site, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, and Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.

"National park vacations are always memorable and affordable," said National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. "However, in these tough economic times, we added fee free days as a way to ensure everyone has the opportunity to visit a park. I encourage everyone to sample a new park or revisit an old favorite." For information about this and other fee-free weekends at National Park Service sites, visit http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm

In addition to the fee-free weekend, Western National Parks Association will also be offering 15% off purchases at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site bookstore. Teachers will receive a 35% discount. The WNPA bookstore offers a wide variety of books, DVDs, CDs, games and other educational materials focusing on race, civil rights, and American history.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information please visit www.nps.gov/brvb or call 785-354-4273.

 

Holiday Party at Brown v. Board Site

Release date: December 6, 2011
Release Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site is hosting a holiday party from 3 pm to 6 pm on Friday, December 16. Come share your holiday traditions and learn about new ones. The party will feature a variety of music, sing-alongs, snacks, a book sale, and a reading of the new Christmas book by local artists Mary Ann Wittman and Andy Valvidia entitled The Little Christmas Tree. The event is free and open to the public of all ages.

Fourth and fifth grade students from Williams Magnet School created holiday decorations and ornaments for the occasion. The students have been participating in an after-school enrichment program operated by Williams and the National Park Service. The general public is also invited to share their own holiday traditions and flex their creative muscles by stopping by the site and making their own decorations between Dec. 9 and Dec. 16.

"This is a great opportunity for members of the community to come and share their holiday traditions and learn about some new ones. If folks are looking for an excuse to get out and enjoy the park, this is a super opportunity to hear some great music, enjoy some snacks, and kick off the holiday season with neighbors and friends!" said park superintendent David Smith.

The art supplies and materials will be provided at the site free of charge. Visitor's art work will be used to decorate the site and reflect the diversity of the community's various holiday traditions. Visitors are encouraged to visit the site and create decorations between Dec. 9 and 16, but art supplies will also be available during the party.

Western National Parks Association will be offering a 15% discount on all purchases at the park bookstore in celebration of the holiday season. The bookstore has an outstanding selection of books and stocking stuffers for all ages and will also feature signed copies of Mary Ann Wittman and Andy Valdivia's book, The Little Christmas Tree.

The approximate program schedule is:

3:30 pm Hanging holiday decorations by Williams Magnet Students
3:45 pm Reading of The Little Christmas Tree by Mary Ann Wittman and Andy Valdivia
4:00 pm African Drumming with the Traditional Music Society
4:45 pm Reading of Jackie's Gift: A True Story of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Jackie Robinson
5:00 pm Decorate cookies and snacks
5:30 pm Sing alongs

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 am to 5 pm daily, with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25, and January 1. For more information visit, www.nps.gov/brvb or call (785) 354-4273.

Did You Know?

Brown v. Board of Education NHS

The Brown v. Board of Education NHS is the only unit of the national park system named after a U.S. Supreme Court case.--Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site