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Brown v. Board of Education, United States Supreme Court (1954)
Online Student Instructions 

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In 1954, the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that had established the doctrine of “separate but equal” as constitutional (see Background Information). In the 1950s, parents of African American children in four different states sued on behalf of their children who were forced to go to “colored” schools that the parents considered inferior to those available to white children in the same area. One of these parents was Oliver Brown whose daughter Linda Brown attended school in Topeka, Kansas. His name was listed first on the suit filed in Kansas and the case came to bear his name and that of Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas.

For this activity, there will be at least three groups. All students with read the Brown v. The Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas final decision of the court. From that decision, the plaintiff's team(s) will try to determine what arguments Brown and the other parents made in suing the court decision. Likewise, the defendant’s team(s) will try to determine what arguments the school districts used to defend their actions. The third group will take the role of the judges and develop a list of questions for the plaintiffs and the defendants. The questions should be designed to help them make their decision. Each team should complete the appropriate part of the Court Case Decisions - Student Research Form.

When each group has finished, the judges will ask those questions of the plaintiff and defendants. The teams will respond based on their understanding of arguments used in 1954. After hearing these answers, the judges will explain if they would rule in the same way as the Supreme Court did in 1954.

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