Lesson Plan

Looking Back Reaching Forward: Exploring the Promise of Brown v. Board of Education in Contemporary Times

Black and White Female Students Holding Hands Schoolbus Boston 1975

Image Donated by Corbis - Bettmann

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GRADE LEVEL: High School

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language, Mathematics

“We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

These celebrated words from the Brown v. Board of Education Majority Opinion ushered in an unprecedented era of civil rights and school restructuring in the United States. In 1954, when this judgment was written, not a single black student attended a majority white public school in the American South. In 1988, after a generation of desegregation efforts, more than 43% of southern black students attended majority white schools.

Looking back on the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, there is much to commemorate. However, this progress should not mask the great inequalities that still exist. The desegregation gains that peaked in 1988 have since eroded.

This curriculum unit commemorates the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Developed for high school students, this unit explores the history of school desegregation in the United States and examines current patterns of resegregation in public schools.