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Kansas Kaleidoscope - December 2003/January 2004

Real People, Real Stories

A fun magazine for kids!

Kansas Kaleidoscope, December 2003/January 2004 EQUAL EDUCATION the Fight, the Right

Public schools today are diverse. They are open to all children. Students of all skin colors, nationalities, and heritages learn together in the same classrooms. But that wasn't always true.

For Parents and Teachers:

May 2004 marked the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, to abolish segregated schools in America. This issue traces the history of social concepts like race and rights, and introduces readers to our Constitutional freedoms, our justice system, and changes in education.

Students can learn more about the landmark Brown v. Board case on our website, www.kshs.org. In addition, the Commission for the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board, along with National History Day, sponsored an essay contest with scholarship prizes for students in grades 6-12. For more information, visit www.nationalhistoryday.org.

For more learning activities on this topic, please visit our online resource: Teacher Supplements at www.kshs.org/teacher/. This teaching tool offers more ways to use this issue of Kaleidoscope with students by providing reproducible worksheets.

The Roots of Segregation

The United States has often been called a "melting pot." People of all different skin colors, languages, and customs live in America. Africans have lived in America since its founding.

The Rulebook for America

Our country's first leaders were very concerned about people's rights. They believed the best thing for America was to write a rulebook for the new United States government.

The Highest Court in the Land

The most important court in our country is the U.S. Supreme Court. The judges of the Supreme Court have the power to review all laws made in the United States. They can decide if any law doesn't follow the rules in the Constitution.

Righting Wrongs

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawed slavery in the United States. All people who had been enslaved before the Civil War were free. Freedom didn't always mean, however, that former slaves were treated equally.

Divided by Race

In some places people ignored the laws that gave equal rights to African Americans. Although slavery was gone, some white Americans still believed that nonwhite citizens were inferior to them (an idea known as racism).

Creating "Separate but Equal" Societies

Many states had "separate but equal" laws. These laws divided society by skin color, and they affected nearly every part of people's lives. In the same town, black and white citizens went to separate schools and separate hospitals.

Kansas-The Promised Land

Thousands of African Americans moved to Kansas between 1860 and 1880. They came wanting to own land and to attend school.

Kansas rural schoolSchooling Kansas Kids

Kansans were proud of their state's reputation as a place of freedom and justice. Public education was part of this responsibility. "There is no reason to question the duty and necessity of educating every child in the State, regardless of color or condition," wrote a Leavenworth man in 1868.

Part United, Part Divided

Kansas struggled with school segregation throughout the 1800s. In 1879 a law was passed that gave towns some guidelines on this issue. Towns with fewer than 15,000 residents would have integrated schools.

Young Voices, Young Choices

Famous American poet Langston Hughes went to elementary school in Topeka and Lawrence. He was the only black child in his Topeka school in 1908-1909.

Achieving Against the Odds

Mamie WilliamsSegregated society presented many hardships for African Americans. Students in some black schools often went without new books, art supplies, science equipment, or musical instruments.

Educational Excellence

Monroe school in Topeka was a black elementary school. The teachers at Monroe were excellent. One of them was Mamie Williams.

A School Girl's Struggle

Eight-year old Linda Brown made friends with lots of children in the 1940s. Her Topeka neighborhood was "predominantly black," but Linda said, "I had white children that I played with. . .Native American children. . .Hispanic children. . .We would play together."

A Lawsuit That Changed America

In the first half of the 1900s, the issue of equality in schools was being questioned across the country. Specifically, lawsuits had been filed in Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

A Remarkable Lawyer: Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall represented the African American families before the Supreme Court. Mr. Marshall's grandfather had been a slave, and Thurgood's father taught him early to appreciate the rights given to all Americans by the Constitution.

Kansas classroomVictory!

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court decided that segregated education did not follow the rules of the 14th Amendment. Separate schools were unconstitutional.

In This Issue:

  • Timeline
  • Kaleidoscope Challenge: Number Puzzler
  • Word Scramble
  • History Lab
  • Visit History
  • Book Nook
  • Bee a Winner!


Teacher Supplement