National Park ServiceU.S. Department of the Interior
Partnership header Making music at the Ashville festival, Blue Ridge Parkway
Brown Foundation

Description: Brown V Board of Education National Historic Site was authorized through P.L.102-525, signed by President George Bush on October 26, 1992 ".to preserve, protect, and interpret for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations, the places that contributed materially to the landmark United States Supreme Court decision that brought an end to segregation in public education; interpret the integral role of the Brown V Board of Education case in the civil rights movement; and assist in the preservation and interpretation of related resources within the city of Topeka that further the understanding of the civil rights movement." The 1992 legislation included statutory aid, through the park, to the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research.

The park's GMP was approved in 1996. The former Monroe Elementary School, which was one of four segregated schools in Topeka in 1951 when the Topeka portion of Brown was first filed, will serve as the park visitor center and will house staff offices. The $11 million building rehabilitation and exhibit development project should be completed late in 2003, and the grand opening will occur on May 17, 2004, the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Oliver L. Brown et al V the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, et al, a case composed of desegregation lawsuits from Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

The Brown Foundation was established in 1988 as a living tribute to the attorneys and plaintiffs in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of 1954 in Brown V Board of Education. The mission and purpose of the Foundation is to further educational equity and multi-cultural understanding in order to improve the quality of life for individuals and strengthen our overall sense of community.

The Foundation promotes careers in the education profession by assisting qualified minority students entering a teacher education program at an accredited university; sponsors performances, lectures, conferences, and other educational programs as a mechanism to increase multicultural understanding; and supports research projects to examine equity and excellence in education. They have assisted Brown V Board of Education NHS in developing curriculum materials and conducting teacher workshops.

Geographic area covered: The Foundation's services are primarily national, with some impacts to the international community through partnerships and networking. For example, one of the Board members is an attorney who assisted in writing the post-apartheid Constitution for the Republic of South Africa through his affiliation with the Law and Society Association of the United States.

List of partners and relationships: The park and the Foundation are members of the Brown V Board of Education 50th Anniversary Coalition (state level), and the Brown V Board of Education 50th Anniversary Presidential Commission (national). Currently developing partnerships with organizations such as the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Important park partners not currently affiliated with the Brown Foundation include the NPS sites partnering through the African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation and the International Coalition of Historic Museum Sites of Conscience.

Accomplishments to date: Partnering with the Brown Foundation has benefited the park by: (1) networking with national organizations which promote or interprete civil rights history and/or contemporary issues; (2) providing access to case plaintiffs, professional historians, and attorneys who greatly improved the quality of the value analyses of interpretive program alternatives, and whose participation in developing the content of the permanent exhibits will insure that the story of Brown is accurately and comprehensively conveyed and; (3) providing access to potential partners who can enhance mission success.

Key success factors:

  1. Commitment to success, organizational and individual introspection.
  2. Willingness to change, flexibility, adaptability (new modeling/paradigm shifting).
  3. Active listening and direct engagement, patience, and emotional neutrality.

Frustrations: Disproportionate influence of partner. Mutual "substantive involvement" and collaboration are not balanced.

Most important lessons learned to date:

  1. Partnerships can be tremendously valuable assets.
  2. In order to be successful, program needs strong commitment of resources from NPS and partners.
  3. Partners must be recognized for their work and contributions.
  4. Members of the partnership value what each other brings in skills, knowledge, and resources

What would you do differently next time: Try to accelerate my learning curve.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study): Numerous books have been written about communications, team building, etc.

For more information:

Name: Stephen (Steve) E. Adams
Affiliation: Superintendent, Brown V Board of Education NHS
Phone/Fax: 785-354-4273
Email/website: steve_adams@nps.gov

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising __; Capital Improvements__; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services __; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __; Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning __; Tourism __; Community Relations __;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: Steve Adams Date posted: 8/1/03
Phone: 785-354-4273

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