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

Chief Justice Warren, speaking for a unanimous Court

This case explores the legal concept of equal protection. 

In Topeka, Kansas, in the 1950s, schools were segregated by race. Each day, Linda Brown and her sister had to walk through a dangerous railroad switchyard to get to the bus stop for the ride to their all-Black elementary school. There was a school closer to the Brown’s house, but it was only for White students. Linda Brown and her family believed that the segregated school system violated the 14th Amendment and took their case to court. The federal District Court decided that segregation in public education was harmful to Black children, but the segregation was legal because all-Black schools and all-White schools had similar buildings, transportation, curricula, and teachers. The Browns appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that even if the facilities were similar, segregated schools could never be equal. The Court decided that state laws requiring separate but equal schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

This section is for teachers.

Use the links below to access:

  • student versions of the activities in .PDF and Word formats
  • how to differentiate and adapt the materials
  • how to scaffold the activities
  • how to extend the activities
  • technology suggestions
  • answers to select activities  

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About the Case

Learning Activities

The Case

After the Case

Teacher Resources

Teaching Strategies Used

Landmark Cases Glossary

The LandmarkCases.org glossary compiles all of the important vocab terms from case materials. It is provided as a view-only Google Sheet.


Planning Time and Activities

If you have one day . . .

  • Read the background summary (•••, ••, •) and answer the questions.
  • Complete the Classifying Arguments Activity. Discuss which arguments the students find most convincing.
  • For homework, have students read the Key Excerpts from the Majority Opinion: Brown I (1954) and Key Excerpts from the Majority Opinion: Brown II (1955) and answer the accompanying questions.

 If you have two days . . .

 If you have three days . . .

 If you have four days . . .

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