Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center

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

Freedom Struggle

Three March on Washington posters with one button
In 1963 about 250,000 Americans of all races joined together in Washington D.C., to stand firm against racial injustice and to demand the passage of national civil rights legislation. At the March on Washington, Martin Luther King proclaimed, “I have a dream,” invoking the hopes of all Americans seeking racial harmony. The official poster, platform pass, and handbill are from the march.
March on Washington

March on Washington

Organizers of the March on Washington lead demonstrators to the Lincoln Memorial, 1963
(Courtesy of National Archives, Washington, D.C.)
Poster, One Man, One Vote

Poster—One Man, One Vote

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee poster, about 1963

Poster, Is He Protecting You?

Poster—Is He Protecting You?

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee poster, about 1963
Poster, I am a Man

Poster—I Am A Man

Designed for the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike

Black consciousness movement buttons
During the late 1960s the tone of the African American freedom struggle changed. An emerging black consciousness movement began to emphasize self-reliance, cultural pride, and a more forceful response to white violence. The Black Panthers is an example of the movement.
Pro- and anti-busing buttons

Pro- and anti- busing buttons

Northern and southern whites in large numbers resisted integration at the workplace, in housing, and in schools. In the 1970s court-ordered busing provoked violent reactions as many whites fought to keep black children out of local schools.
Marshall Supreme Court robe

Marshall Supreme Court robe

On September 1, 1967, Thurgood Marshall took the oath of office to become the first black Supreme Court justice. He wore this robe during his years on the Court. His appointment was the culmination of a lifetime devoted to using the American legal system to provide equal opportunity for all. Marshall continued that mission until he resigned from the court in 1991. He died on January 24, 1993.
(Lent by the Marshall Family)

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