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Education Resources on School Desegregation

The education resources on this site can be used to support K-12 education, as well as undergraduate study of the Civil Rights Movement and the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board decision. Most of the primary source materials come from the holdings of National Archives regional programs from around the country, particularly federal court records. There is some special emphasis on the Mid Atlantic Region, which includes links to complimentary photographs and documents from other institutions in the Greater Philadelphia area. We appreciate the cooperation of our many partners in preparing this web resource and have noted their contributions in the respective citations for collection materials.

The story of school desegregation is a complex one. It did not begin with the Brown v. Board case. It is not just an African American experience. It is interwoven into broader civil rights efforts beyond the issues of schools. The accomplishment of an affirmative decision in the Brown v. Board case is also the result of a tireless tactical strategy by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund under the leadership of Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall to incrementally and strategically break down racial barriers in America.

In many communities throughout the United States, people of color (non-white) had to fight for the right to attend non-segregated publicly funded schools. The battle to desegregate schools questioned the boundaries of public and private rights, as well as states' rights and the notion of "separate but equal". The struggle to eliminate segregated schools also tested racial tolerance in communities, the rule of law in America, and the governance powers of school boards.

Strategies and worksheets for using the primary sources documents presented here in the classroom can be found at the National Archives Education portal.

School Desegregation and Civil Rights Stories:

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