Brown vs. Board of Education
On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision overturning “separate but equal” as unconstitutional, stating that segregation in public schools was a violation of the 14th amendment.
Four years earlier, members of the Topeka, Kansas, Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) challenged the “separate but equal” doctrine governing public education through a class action suit when they were denied the opportunity to enroll their children in the white-only schools.
When the Topeka case made its way to the United States Supreme Court it was combined with other NAACP cases from Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. The combined cases became known as Oliver L. Brown et. al. vs. The Board of Education of Topeka (KS).
You can see the original Complaint against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Court Order, and correspondences between President Eisenhower about Brown vs. Board of Education from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Papers as President here.
Pictured: Supreme Court Opinion of Brown vs. Board of Education, pages 1-3. 5/31/55.
-from the Eisenhower Library
President Johnson and his first school teacher Mrs. Kathryn Deadrich Loney—“Miss Kate”—sat together as President Johnson signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 into law
on Sunday, April 11, 1965.The ceremony took place at Junction School, the one-room schoolhouse near Stonewall, Texas, where Johnson began his education. The Act was the first general aid to education law, represented a major new commitment of the federal government to education, and focused on disadvantaged children in city slums and rural areas.
What do you remember about your first teacher?
For more great photos of teachers all week, visit the National Archives Education page on Facebook.
(Image: Photograph of President Lyndon Johnson at the Signing Ceremony for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act at the Former Junction Elementary School, Johnson City, Texas, 04/11/1965. From the White House Photo Office Collection at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum http://research.archives.gov/description/2803432)
— in Stonewall, TX.
February 16, 1967. Lady Bird Johnson and Mary Lasker accept on behalf of their beautification program a surprise donation of flower seeds to be used in Washington, DC school grounds, in a presentation at the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden of the White House.
LBJ Presidential Library photo #C4560-20a, public domain.
That’s one classy wheelbarrow!
“I am so happy to be back where these memories are so strong.
Thirty-eight years have passed, but I still see the faces of the children who sat in my class. I still hear their eager voices speaking Spanish as I came in. I still see their excited eyes speaking friendship.
Right here I had my first lessons in poverty. I had my first lessons in the high price we pay for poverty and prejudice right here.
Thirty-eight years later our Nation is still paying that price.
Three out of every four Mexican-American children now in a Texas school will drop out before they get to the eighth grade.
One out of every three Mexican-Americans in Texas who are older than 14 have had less than 5 years of school. How long can we pay that price?
In one school district alone, one out of every two children is of Mexican-American descent. But two out of every three graduating seniors this year will be Anglo. How long can we pay that kind of a price? In five of our Southwestern States, 19 percent of the total population has less than 8 years of school. Almost one-fifth of the population in five States has less than 8 years in school.
What is the percent of the Mexican-Americans with less than 8 years of school? How many Mexican-Americans have less than 8 years of school? Fifty-three percent. Over half of all the Mexican-American children have less than 8 years of school. How long can we pay that price?
I will give you that answer this afternoon. I will give that answer to America this afternoon. I will say: We can afford to pay that price no longer. No longer can we afford second-class education for children who know that they have a right to be first-class citizens.
No longer can we afford to say to one group of children: Your goal should be to climb as high as you can. And then say to another group: Your goal should be to get out as soon as you can.
For the conscience of America has slept long enough while the children of Mexican-Americans have been taught that the end of life is a beet row, a spinach field, or a cotton patch.
To their parents, throughout the land this afternoon, we say: Help us lift the eyes of our children to a greater vision of what they can do with their lives.
And to all Americans, we say this: Help us—please help us—lift the shame of indifference from the plight of our children.”
—President Johnson’s Remarks at the Welhausen Elementary School, Cotulla, Texas. November 7, 1966. LBJ Presidential Library photo #3826-0021a, public domain.
Eisenhower Dispatches Federal Troops to Enforce Desegregation
On September 24, 1957, The Little Rock Nine attended their first full day of classes after President Eisenhower ordered the dispatch of the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army to ensure the students’ safety and to uphold the law of the Supreme Court.
On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education that segregated schools are “inherently unequal.” In September 1957, as a result of that ruling, nine African-American students enrolled at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
The ensuing struggle between segregationists and integrationists, the State of Arkansas and the federal government, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, has become known in modern American history as the “Little Rock Crisis.” The crisis gained world-wide attention. When Governor Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to surround Central High School to keep the nine students from entering the school, President Eisenhower ordered the 101st Airborne Division into Little Rock.
The manuscript holdings of the Eisenhower Presidential Library contain a large amount of documentation on this historic test of the Brown vs. Topeka ruling and school integration. See selections from the digital catalog here.
Photo: Little Rock Nine escorted into Central High School by U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division soldiers. Courtesy of Central High Museum Historical Collections.
-from the Eisenhower Library
Learn about the Constitution on iTunes U!
It’s almost Constitution Day! This September 17th marks 225 years since the signing of the United States Constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. At the National Archives we’re commemorating the occasion throughout September with special programs, online media, and learning materials.
If you’re interested in brushing up on your knowledge of the Constitution, try our brand new United States Constitution course on iTunes U.
In it you’ll discover our multi-touch book for iPad – Exploring the United States Constitution – as well as blog posts, articles, videos, documents, and activities in the DocsTeach App for iPad. The course can be accessed for free with the iTunes App for iPad or from http://itunes.apple.com/us/course/united-states-constitution/id559398926
For information about special events and public programs at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, to access teaching and learning resources, and to connect with the National Archives through social media, visit our Constitution Day page.
The G.I. Bill of Rights
June 22 marks the 68th anniversary of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more popularly known as the GI Bill of Rights.
Although World War II was far from over, FDR was determined to plan ahead for a smooth transition to peace, both abroad and at home. The President proposed to Congress a way to level the economic impact of the war’s end and to integrate returning veterans back into American society.
The result was the GI Bill. Now widely credited with creating the post-war middle class, the GI Bill of Rights provided returning veterans with educational benefits, work training, hiring preferences, and subsidized loans for buying homes, businesses and farms.
Here is the White House Stenographer’s Diary from June 22, 1944. FDR signed the Bill at 11:30 AM.
Brown v. Board of Education
On May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren delivered a unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The Court stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” and that school segregation was unconstitutional, violating the equal protection guarantee of the 14th amendment.
This 1954 civil rights victory, argued by Thurgood Marshall, overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision establishing the “separate-but-equal” segregation principle. The Supreme Court’s conclusion can be seen above. View the full document here.
The reaction to the ruling was varied. For example, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Prince Edward County in particular, resisted the Supreme Court’s decision. The county closed its public schools (including the one shown above) from 1959 to 1964 to avoid desegregation.
Learn more from the Eisenhower Library
“A garden for every child, every child in a garden.”
On May 5, 1917, Herbert Hoover was appointed by President Wilson to be the United States Food Administrator.
The U.S. had just entered World War I, and Hoover mobilized Americans to produce and conserve food supplies. Among the kitchen war efforts were Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays.
Across the country, a movement to grow food in school gardens also took off. Children, women, and other civilians tended and harvested gardens to feed WWI troops.
What are you growing in your school garden?