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Inquiry Question

Historical Context





Table of

About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the National Historic Landmark Nominations, “Robert Russa Moton High School” (with photographs), “Sumner and Monroe Elementary Schools” (with photographs), “Howard High School” (with photographs),and “John Philip Sousa Middle School” (with photographs), as well as the National Register Nomination for “Summerton High School,” and the National Historic Landmark Survey theme study entitled Racial Desegregation in Public Education in the United States. Brown v. Board of Education: Five Communities that Changed America was written by Brenda Olio, former Teaching with Historic Places Historian, and Caridad de la Vega, Historian for the National Park Service National Historic Landmarks Survey. The lesson was edited by the Teaching with Historic Places staff. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.

This lesson plan is made possible by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy (VFH) as part of its African-American Heritage Program, which includes the African-American History in Virginia Grant Program, the African-American Heritage Database Project, and the African-American Heritage Trails Program, a partnership between VFH and the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Through these programs, VFH seeks to increase understanding of African-American history in Virginia; to promote research and documentation of existing African-American historic sites; to strengthen the institutions that interpret African-American history in the state; and to encourage Virginians as well as people from all parts of the nation and the world to visit these sites. For more information, contact VFH, 145 Ednam Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22903-4629 or visit VFH’s website.

*Special note to teacher
Please explain to students that
Brown v. Board consolidated separate cases from four states. A fifth public school segregation case from Washington, DC was considered in the context of Brown, but resulted in a separate opinion. References to Brown in this lesson plan collectively refer to all five cases.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in American History courses in units on the civil rights movement, or the history of education in the United States. This lesson could also be used to enhance the study of African-American history in the United States.
Time period: mid-20th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

1) To interpret the implication of the Plessy v. Ferguson court case to the history of segregated educational facilities in the United States.
2) To explain the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) role in the desegregation of public education in the United States.
3) To describe the five cases constituting Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case.
4) To evaluate the importance of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case.
5) To determine the implications of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling on public schools in their own community.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) one map showing the United States;
2) three readings on the history of school desegregation, the five cases involved in Brown v. Board of Education, and the Supreme Court opinion on Brown v. Board of Education delivered by Chief Justice Warren;
3) six photographs of the schools involved in Brown v. Board of Education, and related images.

Visiting the sites
Robert Russa Moton High School [now Robert R. Moton Museum, 900 Griffin Blvd.] (at S. Main St.) is located in Farmville, Virginia. The Robert R. Moton High School is currently undergoing construction for conversion into a museum. The museum is normally open on Wednesday and Friday from 1-3 p.m., and on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m.; however, the site has been temporarily closed since December 2004 due to construction. The center’s mission will be to interpret the history of civil rights in education with particular emphasis on the local story as it relates to the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education. The museum will feature exhibits, serve as a repository for materials related to the struggle for civil rights in education, and will also serve as an educational center. For additional information please visit the museum’s website or contact them at (434) 315-8775.

Sumner and Monroe Elementary Schools are both located in Topeka, Kansas. Sumner Elementary School (330 Western Avenue) closed its doors as an educational facility in 1996 and is currently vacant. Monroe Elementary School [now Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, 1515 SE Monroe Street] is a unit of the National Park Service commemorating the landmark court case of Brown v. Board of Education. The historic site is open for visitation seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. For more information on the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site please contact the site at (785) 354-4273 or visit the park’s website.

Howard High School [now Howard High School of Technology, 401 East 12th Street] is located in the Eastside neighborhood of Wilmington, Delaware. The school is still in use as an educational facility with the curriculum combining both academics and vocational training. A portion of the building is in use as the Delaware Skills Center. Take I-95 to the Delaware Avenue exit and keep to the right making a right onto Delaware Avenue. Make a left on Walnut Street and follow the road to 13th Street and make a right. Take a right into the Howard High School of Technology parking lot. For more information, please contact the school at (302) 571-5400 or visit the school’s website.

The John Philip Sousa Junior High School [now John Philip Sousa Middle School, 37 Street Ely Place, SE] is located in the southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. The building is still used as a middle school today. For more information please contact the school at (202) 645-3170.

Summerton High School [now Summerton Cultural Arts Center, 12 South Church Street] is located in Clarendon County in Summerton, South Carolina. The building is currently used as the Summerton Cultural Arts Center and houses the school district administrative offices. The space is also used for meetings, conventions, and as an entertainment facility. Plans are being developed for a memorial exhibit commemorating Brown v. Board of Education. For information on site tours please contact Ms. Leola Parks at (803) 485-2325, ext. 230.



Comments or Questions

National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.