Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center



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Segregated America
The Battleground
Legal Campaign
Five Communities Change a Nation
The Decision
Legacy
  • “With All Deliberate Speed”
  • Freedom Struggle
  • Equality for All
  • Changing Definitions
  • Communities Since Brown
  • Fifty Years After
March on Washington button

Freedom Struggle

The movement for African American civil rights began long before the Brown decision and continues long after. Still, the defeat of the separate-but-equal legal doctrine undercut one of the major pillars of white supremacy in America. In the decades that followed, a heroic ongoing campaign for civil rights has lifted the nation closer to its ideals of freedom.


NAACP pamphlet

NAACP pamphlet

This NAACP membership application from 1955 celebrated the victory in the Brown case and called on “every freedom-loving American to put into everyday practice both the letter and the spirit” of the Court’s decision.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas

Some of the first pioneers to cross the color line were young children and teenagers who showed courage beyond their years. President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent U.S. Army troops to enforce school integration in Little Rock, Arkansas. The soldiers escorted nine African American students past threatening mobs at Central High School in September 1957, and newspapers around the world carried photographs of the event.
(Courtesy of Library of Congress)
The Problem We All Live With

The Problem We All Live With

Norman Rockwell painted The Problem We All Live With in 1964. It depicts federal marshals guarding six-year-old Ruby Bridges on her way to elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1960.
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