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Brown v. Board of Education
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A Message from Judge G. Joseph Pierron Jr.

2014 Chair, KBA Law Related Education Committee

Dear Kansas Educators:

May 17, 2014, marks the 60th anniversary of the most important United States Supreme Court decision of the 20th century. By a unanimous vote the court struck down its own 1896 decision of Plessy v. Ferguson. Plessy had ruled that legislation allowing or requiring discrimination based on race in the use of public transportation was lawful as long as "separate but equal” facilities were provided. The Plessy ruling was applied to other public services, most notably public education.

Brown was the consolidation of five cases from Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia. It was the culmination of a long struggle by civil rights crusaders to convince the Supreme Court, and the people of the United States, that racial segregation of schools violated the rights of Americans guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The key ruling by the court was simply that racial segregation of public schools was wrong. The court said, "Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible” factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does…”

The striking down of racial discrimination in public schools by the Brown case eventually led to the striking down of many other laws that discriminated on the basis of race.

In 2004 the Kansas Bar Association produced a video on the Brown oral arguments in the Supreme Court. The justices and lawyers involved in Brown were played by Kansas judges and lawyers.

We encourage teachers to use the video to help explain this important part of American history. We also urge you to use other KBA videos to explore the cases of Miranda v. Arizona (the right to counsel and the right to remain silent), New York Times v. Sullivan (freedom of the press) and The Short Story of Sam Snead’s Search at School, (search and seizure).


Judge G. Joseph Pierron Jr.



Judge G. Joseph Pierron, Jr.

Educational Videos

As a public service, the following videos are made possible by funding from the Kansas Bar Foundation. Please contact us to request a free copy of the DVD and teacher materials here.


In this landmark case, the U.S. Supreme Court declared racial segregation of public schools to be unlawful under the Constitution of the United States. The Brown decision altered the daily lives of black and white Americans, laid a foundation of equal rights and opportunities for all, and shines as a beacon to all Americans and to the rest of the world, demonstrating that the ideals in the Declaration of Independence and the tenets of the U.S. Constitution will be universally applied to all citizens.

Teacher Materials included. Time: 74:44 minutes
Materials Available Here


This DVD is distinctively different than most teaching resources. This film was made by students, for students, with the goal of engaging and educating today’s youth. It is recommended for use in meeting the following Kansas civic-government standard: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of governmental systems of Kansas and the United States and other nations with an emphasis on the United States Constitution, the necessity for the rule of law, the civic values of the American people, and the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of becoming active participants in our representative democracy. This resource will assist the student to evaluate the purposes and function of law and to analyze how the rule of law can be used to protect the rights of individuals while promoting the common good.

Teacher material included.Time: Approximately 9 minutes.
Materials Available Here


This decision reversed an Arizona court’s conviction of Ernesto Miranda on kidnapping and rape charges. The case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the conviction was overthrown. In a landmark ruling issued in 1966, the court established that the accused have the right to remain silent and that prosecutors may not use statements made by defendants while in police custody unless the police have advised them of their rights, commonly known as Miranda Rights.

Teacher Materials included. Time: 41:25 minutes.

Materials Available Here


In the 1964 case of New York Times v. Sullivan, the U.S. Supreme Court underlined the importance of a free, robust, inquiring, and possibly critical press to the healthy functioning of a democratic society. The decision used the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to put tight limits on the ability of public officials to punish press critics through the use of libel suits.

Teacher Materials included. Time: 42:40 minutes.
Materials Available Here

More Information

In the News

Articles and Publications

March Law Wise

Read more about Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in the March Law Wise. This issue includes a lesson plan and a link to a timeline of events leading to the Brown decision.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site

Presidential Proclamation – 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education