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

    Brown v. Board of Education

    National Historic Site Kansas

2012

Candlelight Vigil to Honor Victims of Gun Violence

Release date: January 5, 2012
Release 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 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.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Activities at Brown v. Board Site

Release date: January 9, 2012
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - All are invited to commemorate and celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The day will include film screenings, children's activities, and a trivia game with prizes. All activities are free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on January 16.

Children and families visiting the site may participate in a variety of activities to learn more about Dr. King and his legacy. Scavengers hunts focused on Dr. King will be available. Children and family members can express their own creativity by creating a protest sign inspired by slogans of the civil rights movement. A trivia game about Dr. King will also be available. All trivia participants will take home a souvenir, but a special prize will be awarded to the top scoring team in each game.

The park will screen two highly acclaimed films on Martin Luther King, Jr. Both are productions of PBS's American Experience, the longest running and most watched history series on television. "Citizen King" focuses on the last five years of King's life following his historic "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. Filmmaker Orlando Bagwell said of "Citizen King," "This is not a film about the last days of a great leader. Rather, it is a story of a man losing fear, gaining courage, and becoming great." "Roads to Memphis: The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr." will also be screened. This gripping film chronicles the tragic events leading to the assassination of King and the subsequent manhunt that brought his assassin, James Earl Ray, to justice.

Children's activities will be available all day. Movie and trivia times will be:

Film Screening: "Citizen King," 10 a.m. - Noon
King Trivia: 10:30 a.m.
Film Screening: "Roads to Memphis," 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
King Trivia: 1:30 p.m.
Film Screening: "Citizen King," 2:45 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
King Trivia: 3:00 p.m.

Western National Parks Association (WNPA) will offer all visitors a 15% discount on all purchases at the park bookstore. Teachers and educators receive 20% off all purchases year-round. WNPA is also generously donating prizes for the winning trivia teams.

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 Admission to All National Parks from January 14-16

Release date: January 11, 2012
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS -Start your new year with a free visit to a national park! All 397 national parks across the country will offer free admission from January 14 through 16 to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, including the five national parks of Kansas.

You can literally walk in Dr. King's footsteps at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Georgia, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC - just a few of the many national parks that have direct ties to Dr. King.

"Dr. King led the fight to realize his dream of a nation free of discrimination, where every citizen was able to enjoy the inalienable rights promised to all Americans," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "Dr. King's story and those of so many others whose efforts changed our country are preserved in the national parks, places where history happened. I hope every American can take advantage of the upcoming fee free weekend and visit their parks to experience their history firsthand."

Five outstanding national parks also await you in Kansas: Fort Scott National Historic Site, Fort Larned National Historic Site, Nicodemus National Historic Site, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, and Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Your local national parks can help you keep that New Year's resolution, whether it is to get more exercise, spend quality time with family and friends, try a new sport, learn some history, expand your horizons, or enjoy the natural world. There's something for everyone at a national park, even in the middle of winter. A list of activities can be found at www.nps.gov.

The National Park Service will also waive admission fees on 14 other days in 2012 - National Park Week (April 21 to 29), Get Outdoors Day (June 9), National Public Lands Day (September 29), and the weekend of Veterans Day (November 10 to 12).

About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 397 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

 

Film Festival Celebrates African American History Month

Date: January 31, 2012

In celebration of African American History Month, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site is hosting a film festival. A different film will be screened each Saturday at 2 p.m. during the month of February. The films explore and depict issues of race and will range from classic films like To Kill a Mockingbird to the Disney animated film, The Princess and the Frog. All films are free and open to the public and will be followed by a brief discussion led by a park ranger. Popcorn and drinks will also be provided, so bring the whole family!

February 4 Remember the Titans (Rated PG)
February 11 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (Not Rated)
February 18 The Princess and the Frog (Rated G)
February 25 To Kill a Mockingbird (Not Rated)

Remember the Titans features Denzel Washington and explores racial discrimination and conflict on a high school football team in Arlington, Virginia. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was a groundbreaking film that depicted the struggles over interracial marriage and stars Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracy, and Katherine Hepburn. Interracial marriages were still illegal in some states when the film was released in 1967. The Princess and the Frog is a Disney animated film from 2009 that was the first to feature an African American princess. To Kill a Mockingbird is the film adaption of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same title starring Gregory Peck. Released fifty years ago in 1962, the film won three Academy Awards and widely celebrated as a classic in American cinema.

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.

 
Image of "The Struggle" by Charles Anderson

"The Struggle" by Charles Anderson

Art Exhibit Featuring Local Artist Charles Anderson Opens at Brown v. Board

Release date: February 23, 2012
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site will celebrate African American History Month with the opening of a new art exhibit. Charles Anderson: My Art Therapy Journey features paintings and photographs of local artist and art therapist Charles Anderson. The exhibit is free and open to the public daily through March 31 and for the First Friday Artwalk from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on March 2.

Stories of struggle and discrimination are part of the fabric of our nation's history. They live on in the memories and experiences of those who witnessed the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and in the artwork of Charles Anderson. Anderson spent his career as an art therapist, helping people to deal with stress through creative expression, a therapy he also practiced himself. The photographs and paintings are works created to overcome the stress and struggle of a life lived through the civil rights movement. Each work is also paired with musical selections and the poetry of collaborator Gregory B. Dawson.

Charles Anderson began his career in art therapy in 1962 when he began working at the Menninger Clinic. One year later he was drafted into the U.S. Army and stationed in Alaska, where he served as a Recreation Specialist and began conducting classes in photography, ceramics, lapidary, and leather crafts. After his return to Topeka, Anderson earned a Fine Arts degree from Washburn University and became a registered and board-certified art therapist. He worked at the Menninger Clinic until 2003. He has also served as an adjunct instructor of art therapy at Washburn, Emporia State, and Avila Universities. He currently works as a part-time art therapist for Stormont Vail West Hospital.

Charles Anderson: My Art Therapy Journey will also be open on March 2 for the First Friday Artwalk from 5 to 9 p.m. Anderson and Dawson will be onsite during the Artwalk to discuss their works and the stories that inspired them. The exhibition is sponsored by the National Park Service. 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.

 

High School Student? Looking for a Cool Summer Job? Work this Summer in Yellowstone National Park

Release Date: March 1, 2012
Contact: http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/yccjobs.htm

Topeka, KS -Yellowstone National Park will operate its Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Program for the twenty-third consecutive season this summer. The program offers two month-long sessions in a residential setting for young people between the ages of 15 and 18 years of age. Session dates are June 10-July 12 and July 15-August 16. Applications are due March 5.

Yellowstone's YCC experience allows enrollees and staff the opportunity to learn and work in the world's first national park. The program is challenging, educational, and fun, and offers participants opportunities to expand their horizons while building skills that will benefit them for a lifetime. No previous wilderness experience is required, but a willingness and ability to work in a physically active outdoor program, get along well with others, and maintain a positive attitude are essential for success.

Approximately 40 teen enrollees will be selected from across the country to participate in the park's YCC summer program. Enrollees will work 40 hours a week and receive the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) with bi-weekly deductions for room, board, and laundry facilities (~$140). Healthy food options will be provided by the YCC Cook or prepared by staff and youth while camping.

How to Apply

To apply, complete the Yellowstone 2012 YCC Application electronically or by hand including signatures by March 5, 2012. Application materials and additional information can be found at http://www.nps.gov/yell/parkmgmt/yccjobs.htm

 
KansasFirstLadySmall

Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback (center) leads after-school reading program for third graders along with NPS and Williams Magnet School staff.

Kansas First Lady Visits After-school Program

Date: April 18, 2012

Every Friday children from Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet School walk a few blocks to Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site to participate in after-school enrichment activities. Park staff and volunteers provide and facilitate reading programs, art projects, outdoor activities, and curriculum based programs.

On April 20, third graders arrived and were met by Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback. Mrs. Brownback visited with the children and read Of Thee I Sing, a children's book written by President Barack Obama.

The students are participants in an afterschool program called Families Empowered by Additional Teaching of Students (FEATS). FEATS targets children at low-performing schools living in poverty. Over 85% of the children attending Williams receive free and low cost lunches and nearly half those students are reading below state standards.

Jointly administered by the Williams School and the YWCA, FEATS focuses on providing healthy snacks, exercise, literacy, and educational enrichment programs. The program has been very well received by students, school social workers, and park staff.

"Having the first lady read to these children about the role of civil rights in their lives will be something that they will never forget," said park Superintendent David Smith. "She generously shared her time to help enrich their minds and share stories about people - just like these kids - who had the courage to stand up for what was right and help change the world. What better place to have this discussion than at the park where a few committed parents helped rock the very foundation of our country's educational system."

 

Got a Story? Brown v. Board Announces Oral History Project at 58th Anniversary Event

Release date: May 9, 2012
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - The community has been talking and the National Park Service has been listening. Topekans want to see their stories told at their national park. We invite you to join us at 2 p.m. on May 17 to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and learn about the park's new Oral History Project. Governor Sam Brownback will be issuing a proclamation formally apologizing for the State's policy of racial segregation in education. The proclamation will be presented at the event by Dr. Mildred Edwards, Executive Director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission. The event is free and open to the public.

After musical selections by the Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet School Choir, attorney Charles Scott, Jr. will discuss the role his family played in the fight to end segregation in Kansas schools. Mr. Scott is a third generation attorney whose father and grandfather battled segregation in Kansas courtrooms for the first half of the 20th century. The National Park Service seeks to facilitate connections between those who lived this history and a nation of children that must learn its lessons.

The Brown v. Board of Education Oral History Project will capture the stories of community members that relate to the historic Brown decision. The park is interested in recording memories, recollections, and experiences of people living in Topeka between 1940 and 1970, including stories about schools, neighborhoods, work life, and community activities. Park staff will be onsite to sign up community members that want to share their stories in a formal oral history interview that will be scheduled for a later date.

We are particularly interested in hearing about the experiences of teachers and students at Topeka public schools, both before and after the Brown decision in 1954. The individual oral histories will become part of the Brown v. Board of Education Oral History Project. Oral histories provide future students and researchers a record of history that can only be found in the people who lived it. Though national in its significance, the case affected the Topeka community, and if the stories of this historic event are not preserved, then they will be forever untold.

Please share this announcement far and wide. As always, the event is free and open to all. If you cannot attend on May 17 but would still like to share your stories, please contact Park Historian Thom Rosenblum at (785) 354-4273 ext. 234 or email by clicking here. We hope to see you on May 17. 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.

 
Artist Marla Jackson

Marla Jackson Selected as Park's First Artist in Residence

Release Date: June 18, 2012
Contact: Justin Sochaki
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - Artists have long impacted the formation, expansion, and direction of our national parks. The work of many artists has also assisted in providing perspectives at parks that create meaningful experiences for our visitors. And creating art can be a powerful way to learn the stories of the past, especially for children. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site is pleased to announce that quilt artist Marla A. Jackson will be the park's first Artist in Residence.

For the next four months, Ms. Jackson will collaborate with park staff to engage youth and audiences in art programs that will connect visitors to stories of the struggle for equality. Ms. Jackson will assist with art projects for five weeks of summer camps that will bring students from Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City area Boys and Girls Clubs to learn about the struggle for civil rights in Kansas by visiting historic sites and engaging in art projects.

One of eight children born to Fern Eaton Crum and Rufus Crum, Jr., originally from Royal Oak Township in Michigan, Ms. Jackson spent many weekends and summers with her paternal grandparents, Rufus and Zelma Crum, and her once enslaved great-grandmother, Lucille Crum. Ms. Jackson's 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. Her primary goal with her work is to echo the untold stories of heroes that history has overlooked, forgotten, or hidden.

Painting the landscapes of the American West, visual artists like George Catlin and Albert Bierstadt focused attention on natural wonders in the western landscape, then unfamiliar to the eastern populace. These visual records of early artists helped to stimulate the establishment of many of our first national parks. Today, artists from a wide variety of mediums draw upon the multifaceted quality of parks for inspiration. Artists like Ms. Jackson translate the national park's purpose, as a place that preserves our nation's struggle for equality, into images and projects that bring a deeper understanding of the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education to youth.

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 call 785-354-4273 or visit www.nps.gov/brvb and www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps

 

What Does Freedom Mean to You? Student Art Contest Commemorates 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

Date: June 27, 2012
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone: (785) 354-4273

TOPEKA, KS - Calling all teenage film makers, poets, and photographers! The National Park Service, in partnership with the National Park Foundation's African American Experience Fund, today launched Expressions of Freedom, a nationwide artistic competition to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Contest submissions will be accepted from students 13 to 18 years old in three categories - photography, poetry, and digital short films. The first-place winner in each category will receive a $2,500 academic scholarship and the second-place winner will receive a $1,000 academic scholarship. The deadline for entries is October 15, 2012. Details are available at http://www.nps.gov/freedom.

"The issue that was at the heart of the Civil War - the continual struggle for equality for all - remains relevant today," said Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. "This contest encourages young people to reflect on their own personal meanings of freedom and creatively express those thoughts."

Expressions of Freedom is designed to connect student artists to the significance of the American Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the system of national parks that commemorate events associated with the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement.

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 call 785-354-4273 or visit www.nps.gov/brvb and www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps.

 

Monthly Ranger Programs Now Offered at Library

Date: July 26, 2012
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - Park rangers from Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site will offer ranger programs each month at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. From presidents to battles to daring rescues in the wild, your National Parks preserve the diversity of America's history and the adventures of its landscapes. Join a park ranger for a different topic each month and learn all about your National Parks. All programs are free, open to the public, and begin at 7 pm.

"The community has long relied on the library as a research hub. This partnership program series with the National Park Service brings to life seldom heard stories that make up the fabric of our nation. Attendees get to meet the experts and discover unexpected footnotes from our history," said Nancy Overmyer, Events Manager for the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. Beginning in August, ranger programs will be offered the first Thursday of each month at 7pm.

  • July 30 - Linked by Fate and Friendship: Harry S Truman and Lyndon B. Johnson (Ranger Dave Schafer)
  • August 2 - Death Valley: The Hottest Destination in America (Ranger Justin Sochacki)
  • September 6 - Death and Dying in the National Parks (Ranger David Smith)
  • October 4 - Like Grass Before a Sickle: Gettysburg and Fort Wagner (Ranger David Carter)
  • November 1 - Destiny at Dawn: Loss and Victory Along the Washita (Ranger Randy Standingwater)   

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.

 

Doll Making Workshop Led by Artist in Residence Marla Jackson

Date: August 7, 2012
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS -Artist in Residence Marla A. Jackson will lead a fabric doll-making workshop beginning at 9 am on Saturday, August 18 at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The workshop is free of charge, but the program is limited to 12 participants. Participants must register in advance by calling 785-354-4273. Registration is first come, first served.

Jackson is a nationally recognized quilt artist and also creates fabric dolls. Workshop participants will have an opportunity to work closely with an established local artist. All fabric, polyfill, accessories, and patterns will be provided at the workshop. Participants must provide their own sewing machines and lunches. The workshop will begin at 9 am and conclude in the afternoon. "We are delighted to offer this opportunity for the public to interact with a nationally known artist," said Chief of Interpretation Dave Schafer. "Participants will learn about Marla Jackson's distinctive and colorful style and be inspired to create their own dolls."

One of eight children born to Fern Eaton Crum and Rufus Crum, Jr., originally from Royal Oak Township in Michigan, Ms. Jackson spent many weekends and summers with her paternal grandparents, Rufus and Zelma Crum, and her once enslaved great-grandmother, Lucille Crum. Ms. Jackson's 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. Her primary goal with her work is to echo the untold stories of heroes that history has overlooked, forgotten, or hidden.

Artists like Ms. Jackson translate the national park's purpose, as a place that preserves our nation's struggle for equality, into images and projects that bring a deeper understanding of the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education for all who visit. Jackson is the first Artist in Residence for Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.

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 call (785) 354-4273 or visit www.nps.gov/brvb and www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps

 
Visitors meet Rose the Tarantula from the Topeka Zoo at Grant Fest.

Visitors meet Rose the Tarantula from the Topeka Zoo at Grant Fest.

NPS/Cheryl DeShazer

Labor Day Festival Draws 1300 Visitors to Park

Date: September 4, 2012

Partnering with the Mid-America Black Expo for "Grant Fest," Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site enjoyed the busiest day in recent memory. Over 1300 visitors enjoyed a range of activities at the park on Saturday.

"Being able to connect with new audiences is such an important part of our function as a National Park. The key to success this weekend's event was finding partners who had proven successful at connecting with new audiences," said park superintendent David Smith. "This is going to become an annual event that we know will serve our community partners and bring people out to the park."

The park provided an expanded Junior Ranger program for the day. Kids earned the park's new Civil War to Civil Rights trading cards by participating in a variety of activities including printmaking, team-building games, and museum activities.

Kids and grown-ups alike enjoyed programs provided by the Topeka Zoo and a visit from the area bookmobile. Former NPS ranger and award winning storyteller Bobby Norfolk entertained all with his dynamic stories. From the Underground Railroad to the Harlem Renaissance to the Negro Leagues, Bobby took visitors through a sweep of African American history. And with rides, food, and live music in the adjacent Cushinberry Park, there was something for everyone in the local community.

The final event of the evening was the premiere of a new film by French filmmaker Fabrice Chiambretto called Barbara Johns: The Making of an Icon. The film focuses on a sixteen year-old high school student that organized and led a walkout in protest of deplorable schools for African American children in Farmville, Virginia. The case became one of the five lawsuits heard by the U.S. Supreme Court that led to the desegregation of public schools in the United States. Any park interested in using the film as an interpretive tool should contact the park.

 
Ranger David Carter speaks to the crowd before the Run for Justice.

Ranger David Carter speaks to the crowd before the Run for Justice.

Photo courtesy of Dick Ross.

Run for Justice Held on Labor Day

Date: September 11, 2012

Partnering with Washburn University Running Club, the park co-sponsored a 5K "Run for Justice" to honor and remember the sacrifices of firefighters and law enforcement officers on 9/11.

The day began on the steps of the visitor center with students from Scott Computer Technology Magnet Elementary School presenting artwork and awards to Topeka fire chief Greg Bailey, Topeka police chief Ron Miller, and Shawnee County sheriff Herman Jones. After the presentation, 95 runners took positions on the starting line on the Landon Trail, a city trail adjacent to the park, for the 5K walk and run. Several park staff participated in the run, but were bested by talented local runners.

The race was the culminating event for a weekend of activities at the park that drew a range of new visitors and communities to the park, with the goal of getting people outdoors and exercising. Ranger David Carter organized the event.

"As a former law enforcement officer, I know that good 'thank you's' from citizens are few and far between," said Carter. "We really wanted to show our appreciation to our military, police, and fire on Labor Day and in remembrance of the tragedy on September 11."

At just under two acres, Brown v. Board of Education NHS relies on an extensive regional trail system to supplement the park's outdoor recreational venues. Park staff have been capitalizing on this by connecting younger visitors to local natural areas via the trails. The success of the Labor Day race opens the door to similar outdoor activities and races in the future.

 
The U.S. District Court of Kansas holds court in the auditorium as 56 people become new citizens.

The U.S. District Court of Kansas holds court in the auditorium as 56 people become new citizens.

NPS\Cheryl DeShazer

Naturalization Ceremony Shared Via Webcam

Date: September 11, 2012

Fifty-six new citizens were sworn in at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site on September 7th. After welcoming the new citizens and their guests, U.S. District Court Judge Julie Robinson surprised one already excited participant. The judge announced that the ceremony would be streamed live via webcast, so that a special guest could watch from afar. Adelina Roberts was delighted to hear that her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. Thomas Roberts was watching the ceremony from his post in Afghanistan and waiting to see his wife become a U.S. citizen.

The program included a welcome from park superintendent David Smith, musical selections by the Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet School choir, and a moving address by Topeka attorney Pedro L. Irigonegaray, who emigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1961 as a young boy. Irigonegaray urged the newly sworn citizens to uphold their civic duties and responsibilities and remember the Americans that had bravely stepped forward to battle segregation in America's public schools.

 

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to Speak at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Date: September 12, 2012
Contact: Justin Sochacki
Phone: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - On September 18, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be the keynote speaker at a public program beginning at 11:45 a.m. at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The event is free and open to the public.

The program will kick off with a performance by the Topeka High School drumline at approximately 11:45 a.m., followed by the Williams Fine Arts and Science Magnet School choir. Featured speakers will include park superintendent David Smith, Topeka Mayor William Bunten, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Diane DeBacker, Highland Park High School principal Dr. Beryl New, National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The presentations will focus on the importance of education as a civil right in the United States.

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 call 785-354-4273 or visit www.nps.gov/brvb and www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps

 
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed a crowd of over 200 students,
educators, and community members on the front steps of Brown v. Board of Education
National Historic Site as part of a ten-day bus tour titled "Education Drives America."

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan addressed a crowd of over 200 students, educators, and community members on the front steps of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site as part of a ten-day bus tour titled "Education Drives America."

Topeka Capital-Journal/Thad Allton

"Education Drives America" Bus Tour Stops at Brown v. Board of Education NHS

Date: September 20, 2012

Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke for approximately 15 minutes about the necessity of closing the opportunity gap in education and the importance of continued investment in educational opportunities for all Americans. Referring to the formerly segregated Monroe School as "hallowed ground," Secretary Duncan commented that "Brown v. Board of Education is not just a part of our history; it has to be part of our future as well."

The program kicked off with the Topeka High School drumline and the Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet School choir offered up "Home on the Range," the state song of Kansas. The Secretary was preceded by speakers that included Topeka mayor William Bunten, Kansas Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker, National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel, and Highland Park High School Principal Dr. Beryl New.

The Secretary was then introduced by high school students Jewlissa Frickey and McKenna Miller, whose National History Day film on WWII Japanese-American internment camps is currently on display at the park.

Prior to the public program, law students from Washburn University participated in a one hour town hall meeting at the park with Assistant Secretaries of Education Michael Yudin and Russlyn Ali. Approximately 50 high school students also toured the exhibits and participated in ranger led education programs before joining the law students and Department of Education officials for a second hour of dialogue and discussion.

"What better place than Brown v. Board of Education NHS to tell the story of segregation in education," said park superintendent David Smith. "Secretary Duncan made it very clear that we are facing a crisis in education today. We are thrilled that the park could be part of a renewed focus on the role of education in American society."

Given the extensive media coverage of the Secretary's visit, the public event also drew the attention of the Topeka based Westboro Baptist Church. The controversial church group regularly pickets the funerals of American soldiers to publicize their views against homosexuality. Several members of the church demonstrated and exercised their constitutional rights under the First Amendment with signs, placards, and songs just off park property. They demonstrated without incident and left shortly before the Secretary's arrival.

 

Student Art Exhibit Inspired by Aaron Douglas Opens for First Friday Artwalk

Date: October 1, 2012
Contact: Joan Wilson
Phone: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - An exhibition of student art inspired by Aaron Douglas will open as part of the First Friday Artwalk at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 5."The Ray of Hope" consists of quilts and murals created by fourth graders from Williams Science and Fine Arts Magnet School and eighth graders from Liberty Central Middle School in Lawrence in collaboration with quilt artist Marla Jackson. The First Friday event and the exhibit are both free and open to the public. The exhibit will be on display at the museum through October 28.

Williams fourth grade student Xavier Benham will also be recognized at the First Friday event. Xavier's artwork was selected as one of two pieces to represent the state of Kansas at a national exhibition at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library in Washington D.C. Over 3,000 students, ages 5 to 15, submitted artwork that addressed Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech and the question: "What Inspires Me?" Only 102 pieces were selected for exhibition, including Xavier's. The exhibition in Washington D.C. will be displayed until the end of October.

The Williams student-artists were also participants in an after-school program called Families Empowered by Additional Teaching of Students (F.E.A.T.S.). The F.E.A.T.S. program seeks to increase academic outcomes for children in low performance schools through exercise, healthy snacks,and experiential learning activities. The program is a partnership between Williams Magnet School and the YWCA and is made possible by a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant. Each Friday students participate in after-school programs at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, including sessions with the park's Artist-in-Residence, Marla Jackson. Artists like Ms. Jackson translate the national park's purpose,as a place that preserves our nation's struggle for equality, into images and projects that bring a deeper understanding of the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education to youth.

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 call 785-354-4273 or go to www.nps.gov/brvb or visit us at www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps.

 

Historic Cell Phone Tours Announced

Date: October 1, 2012
Contact: David Smith
Phone: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - A variety of local historical societies and tourism groups have partnered with the National Park Service to bring the fight for civil rights alive in downtown Topeka.

Beginning Wednesday, October 3, historical sites throughout Topeka will begin using free cell phone audio tours highlighting local stories. Parnters will have a press conference at 10 a.m. at Constitution Hall at 429 S Kansas Avenue. to discuss the new project. This is the first phase of a three part strategy that will also include the publication of driving guides as well as interpretive signage at the historical sites. The historical alliance hopes that this will lead to an increased focus on historical tourism that capitalizes on Topeka's rich history.

As part of the new cell phone tours, Monday marked the unveiling of a new sign on a north-facing billboard located at 423 S Kansas Avenue, directly across from the post office building, site of the original court house used in the Brown v. Board of Education case, highlighting the tours.

Other sites in town being interpreted in the cell phone tour include the Historic Ritchie House, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, the Kansas State House, the Topeka Cemetery, Constitution Hall and many others. All of the sites that are part of "From Brown to Brown: Topeka's Civil Rights Story" are tied to the story of the struggle for freedom.

Guides for the audio tour are being finalized now and will be available free to the public by the end of October. In the meantime, listeners can sign on to the audio tours by calling (785) 338-4041 and listen to information about the current list of sites. Additional sites will be added once the brochure goes to print.

"Topeka has been on the forefront of important struggles for freedom, as well as being an important part of the Freedom Frontier National Heritage Area. The "Brown to Brown" tour will emphasize the importance of these sites and will be a significant means to encourage all Topekans to promote historic tourism in our community," said David Smith, park superintendent.

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 call785-354-4273 or visit www.nps.gov/brvb and www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps

 
World War II veteran Tom Farr is greeted by local artists and high school students during a celebration of Veterans at Brown v. Board of Education NHS. Farr shared stories of his time in France and Italy from nearly 70 years ago with a crowd of high school seniors.

World War II veteran Tom Farr is greeted by local artists and high school students during a celebration of Veterans at Brown v. Board of Education NHS. Farr shared stories of his time in France and Italy from nearly 70 years ago with a crowd of high school seniors.

NPS/Angela Estep

Veterans Inspire Quilt Pieces

Date: November 7, 2012

American war veterans from World War II as well as Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan engaged high school students at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site as part of an effort to honor soldiers on Veterans Day. Whether it was hearing stories of combat in Afghanistan, facing battles in Normandy, or the monotony of marching and singing in cadence, the students left the park with a rich appreciation for American military service.

Park staff partnered with the Dream Rocket Project so that they could better link students from the heartland with the conflicts and issues soldiers contend with beyond the American shores. Many of the soldiers connected their stories of fighting for freedom and democracy with the park's story of fighting for equality and world free of discrimination.

High school art students were at the site to create quilt pieces that honored military service and could be displayed for Veterans Day. The quilts will eventually end up as part of a major art exhibit linking the exploration of space with community art programs. The Dream Rocket Project enlists the help of students worldwide to create a collage of quilt pieces that tell the stories of peace, freedom, equality and education and that will be sewn together in order to fully wrap a Saturn V Moon Rocket by June of 2014.

Brown v. Board of Education NHS has partnered with program coordinator Jennifer Marsh to create hundreds of these quilt pieces. Marsh will need a total of 8,000 individual quilts in order to fully enshroud the Saturn rocket. Parks interested in working with Marsh to create Dream Rocket quilts can contact her by clicking here for more information.

 
A table with fruit, vegetables, African figurines, and kinara with candles for a Kwanzaa celebration.

Kwanzaa Celebration with Chocolate Me Illustrator

Release date: December 14, 2012
Contact: Angela Estep
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Topeka, KS - Award-winning illustrator and storyteller Shane Evans will bring Kwanzaa to life on Friday, December 21, 2012, at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The event will begin with a book signing at 3 p.m., immediately followed by the Kwanzaa celebration at 4:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to dress up in Afrocentric or celebratory outfits.

Evans will use his talents to incorporate discussion, music and dance to teach about the holiday that is celebrated by millions in communities of African heritage throughout the world promoting family, community and culture. Evans, an artist from Kansas City, will also be offering an additional program "Chocolate Me" for the students at Williams Science and Fine Art Elementary Magnet School. Evans' appearance in Topeka is part of a partnership between the National Park Service and the Families Empowered from Additional Teaching of Students (F.E.A.T.S.) program.

Books available for autographs include Chocolate Me, Nobody's Gonna Turn Me Around, No More and Free at Last. Western National Park Association will be offering a 15% holiday discount on the day of the program on all merchandise.

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 call (785) 354-4273 or visit www.nps.gov/brvb and www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps.

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