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Brown vs. Board Education of Topeka was a landmark case in 1954, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that state laws enforcing racial segregation in schools violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It was an important case in line with the Civil Rights Movement.
See the fact file below for more information on the Brown vs. Board Education or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Brown vs. Board Education worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
BACKGROUND OF RACIAL SEGREGATION
- For a long time prior to the Brown vs. Board Education of Topeka case, schools had always been racially segregated.
- In the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was legal that public facilities were racially segregated.
- As long as facilities for blacks and whites were considered ‘equal’, the state did not regard racial segregation as problematic.
- Segregation laws known as Jim Crow laws prohibited African-Americans from sharing the same public facilities, going to the same schools, and riding the same buses as the whites.
- The states were ruled by a “separate but equal” doctrine.
CHALLENGING RACIAL SEGREGATION
- By the 1950s, racial segregation in public schools began to be challenged by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
- The NAACP had began to file lawsuits in Delaware, South Carolina, and Virginia.
- The lawsuit that became the most famous was that of Oliver Brown.
- Oliver Brown’s daughter was prohibited from being admitted into all-white elementary schools in Topeka.
- In 1951, Brown filed a class-action lawsuit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
- In his lawsuit, Brown claimed that racial segregation in schools violated the 14th Amendment, particularly the clause stating that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.
- The U.S. District Court in Kansas ruled that the schools were still equal, but acknowledged the sense of inferiority colored children would feel from racial segregation.
BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION CASE
- Four other school-segregation related class-action suits in other states were brought to the Supreme Court in 1952.
- The Court merged those four cases together with Brown’s case into a single case which would be known as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
- The case became more than just concerning the plaintiffs: it represented all African-American students who had been denied admission to all-white public schools.
- The head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund was the chief attorney for the plaintiffs. His name was Thurgood Marshall.
- Later on in his career, he would become the first African-American Supreme Court justice.
- Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson first presided over the case, but when he died before the case was heard, he was replaced with Earl Warren, who was the Governor of California at the time.
- Chief Justice Earl Warren pulled off a unanimous verdict in favor of the Browns and the plaintiffs, and against school segregation.
- The verdict was issued on May 17, 1954.
- The Chief Justice argued that school segregation is “inherently unequal.”
- The Court ruled that school segregation is a violation of the equal protection clause provided in the 14th Amendment.
- However, the ruling did not order or provide concrete steps in integrating schools.
- The Court’s decision gained general praise from Americans, but people from the South publicly denounced it.
- In May 1955, the Court issued a second opinion in the case, which was known as Brown v. Board of Education II.
- Chief Justice Warren ordered district courts and school boards to uphold school integration urgently.
- Even though Kansas and a few other states complied with this decision, many local and school authorities in the South refused to act in accordance with the verdict.
- It wasn’t until the late 1960s when integration progressed in these states.
- The Little Rock Nine is one example of the evasion of Southern states from school integration.
- Nine African American students in Little Rock, Arkansas were denied entrance in formerly all-white Central High School in 1957.
- Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas personally called out the state National Guard to prevent the students from entering school premises.
- President Eisenhower deployed federal troops to escort the students in entering the high school.
- The Brown v. Board Education case was a major propellant of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
- Although it did not immediately and solely carry out school de-segregation, it proved that the inferiority experienced by African Americans are valid and that laws enforcing that inequality are unconstitutional.
- The Court’s verdict in Brown v. Board of Education was used to overturn Jim Crow laws applicable to other public facilities.
- It was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that began the process of desegregation in full force.
Brown vs. Board Education Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Brown vs. Board Education across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Brown vs. Board Education worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Brown vs. Board Education of Topeka which was a landmark case in 1954, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that state laws enforcing racial segregation in schools violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It was an important case in line with the Civil Rights Movement.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Brown vs. Board Education Facts
- Terms to Remember
- The Jim Crow Laws
- Segregating States
- Important Details
- State Reactions
- Further Discussion
- Summary Comics
- 14th Amendment Cases
- Little Rock News
- Civil Rights Movement
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