Teaching About Brown v. Board

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Too often marked as the launch of the Civil Rights Movement, it is important to teach about the Supreme Court ruling in the context of the decades long struggle by people across the United States.

Here are some lessons (three from Rethinking Schools), books, films, and articles that can be used to teach about Brown v. Board in grades 4-12. 

Lessons and Teaching Stories

The March on John Philip Sousa: A Social Action Project
by Elizabeth A. Davis
A D.C. public school teacher and her students learn about and fight to preserve the historic role of one of the schools in the Brown v. Board case.  

Warriors Don’t Cry: Brown Comes to Little Rock
by Linda Christensen
A role play exercise brings Melba Pattillo Beals’ classic book about the Little Rock Nine to life for students.

Teaching Brown in Tuscaloosa
by Alison Schmitke
Learning about their community’s civil rights history inspires students to action.

Our Grandparents’ Civil Rights Era
by Willow McCormickSecond graders ask grandparents to write about their experience during the Civil Rights Movement. The letters bring surprising wisdom—and some thought-provoking issues—to the classroom.

Films and Articles

The Lemon Grove Incident (Film)
The story of a 1931 desegregation court ruling in a case about a California school that barred Mexican-Americans.

The Road to Brown (Film)
The little known story of Charles Hamilton Houston who paved the road to Brown v. Board.

Segregation Now: The Resegregation of America’s Schools (Article by ProPublica)
Sixty years after the Supreme Court outlawed “separate but equal” education, ProPublica’s Nikole Hannah-Jones went to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to investigate the resegregation of Southern schools. 

Brown 50 Years Later (Article by Rethinking Schools)
It's hard to believe that only a half century ago the United States Supreme Court banned legal segregation. Ironically, many of the schools named after the very people who fought segregation—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks—are among the most segregated schools in our communities.


 Launch a booklist for teaching about Brown v. Board.