Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center


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Nonfiction (Adult)

Armor, David J. Forced Justice: School Desegregation and the Law. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
The author finds that voluntary “magnet” school programs are as effective as mandatory busing policies. Armor proposes a new policy of “equity” choice, drawing upon the best features of the desegregation and choice movements to provide both desegregation and more choice for the parents of urban lowincome minority children.

Bell, Derrick. Silent Covenants: Brown vs. Board of Education and the Elusive Quest for Racial Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, May, 2004.
This work combines the personal reflections of a civil rights attorney who participated in numerous school desegregation cases, with a critical analysis of the legacy of Brown.

Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1988.
Branch explores the influence that white American Christian theologians had on Dr. Martin Luther King. This work contains extensive and startling detail about major civil rights activists and political leaders like President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. It won the Pulitzer Prize.

Branch, Taylor. Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65. New York: DIANE Publishing Co., 2001.
The life of Martin Luther King, Jr., from the March on Washington, to his assassination in Memphis, is explored in the context of the events of the 1960s, including the Black Power movement and the antiwar movement.

Clotfelter, Charles T. The Rise and Retreat of School Desegregation. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, June, 2004.
Clotfelter argues that the changes brought about by Brown have been “ . . . at times dramatic, uneven, and subject to reversal.” The author documents many examples, but overall, feels that American society has improved as a result of what happened in 1954.

Cottrol, Robert J., Raymond T. Diamond, and Leland B. Ware. Brown v. Board of Education: Caste, Culture and the Constitution. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, October 2003.
This overview, designed for students and general readers, places Brown v. Board of Education in the context of slavery, caste, and racial exclusion in American society. The roles of the NAACP and individuals such as Thurgood Marshall, Chief Justice Earl Warren, and Justice Felix Frankfurter are highlighted.

Gonzalez, Gilbert G. Chicano Education in the Era of Segregation. Philadelphia: Balch Institute Press, 1990.
This work traces the history of Chicano education through four eras of the 20th century. It underscores the significance of the Méndez case.

Greenberg, Jack. Crusaders in the Courts: How a Dedicated Band of Lawyers Fought for the Civil Rights Revolution. New York: Twelve Tables Press, anniversary edition, 2004.
Greenberg presents the personal memoirs of the only white member of the legal team that argued Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court. He also describes his role as director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the formation of other legal defense funds.

Jackson, John P. Social Scientists for Justice: Making the Case Against Segregation. New York: University Press, 2001.
A history of social science studies conducted in support of Brown v. Board of Education, including the “doll test” that showed that, when given a choice, African American children preferred white dolls to black dolls. The author details the significant role that social scientists played in the battle to end segregation.

Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America’s Struggle for Equality. New York: Knopf, 2004.
Based on extensive interviews and legal documents, this book presents a detailed account of the five cases that came to be known as Brown v. Board of Education. Though originally published twenty-five years ago, it remains one of the principal references on this subject.

Lukas, Anthony J. Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families. New York: Vintage, 1986.
This book tells the story of the ten-year battle to integrate Boston Public Schools. Told from the perspectives of a working-class African American family, a working-class Irish American family, and a middle-class white liberal family, the book goes beyond stereotypes by grounding their opinions and attitudes in the historical past. It was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, the National Book Award, and the National Critics Circle Award.

Martin, Waldo E. (ed.), Brown v. Board of Education: A Brief History With Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 1998.
A comprehensive introductory essay is followed by a collection of primary sources. These begin with a 1787 petition for inclusion of black students in the Boston public schools and end with a New York Times editorial commenting on the 40th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

McNeil, Genna Rae. Groundwork: Charles Hamilton Houston and the Struggle for Civil Rights. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.
McNeil’s biography of one of the central figures in the legal campaign against segregation effectively demonstrates how Hamilton, a builder of black institutions, developed Howard Law School into a center for civil rights, mentored Thurgood Marshall, helped found the Black National Bar Association, and argued several key Supreme Court cases.

Morris, Vivian Gunn. The Price They Paid: Desegregation in an African American Community. New York. Teachers College Press, 2002.
Gunn documents both gains and significant losses as she follows one African American community from school segregation to desegregation. The book contrasts the caring and nurturing African American school with the hostile new environment in the new predominantly white American school.

Ogletree, Charles. All Deliberate Speed: Reflections on the First Half-Century of Brown v. Board of Education. New York: WW. Norton & Co., 2004.
The author, a noted civil rights attorney, professor at Harvard Law School, and the American Bar Association’s representative on the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission, stresses the limits of progress since Brown.

Patterson, James T. Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Patterson’s book traces the course of school desegregation from the years of state-imposed segregation in the early twentieth century through the current rise of resegregation. The author concludes that the legacy of Brown is mixed, largely due to social and cultural issues that the legal system may not be able to reconcile.

Samuels, Albert L. Is Separate Unequal? Black Colleges and the Challenge to Desegregation. Lawrence, Kans: University Press of Kansas, February, 2004.
The author maintains that there is not a double standard in advocating for equal opportunity education and advocating for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Because segregation and discrimination have historically created disadvantages, the HBCUs are one path toward equal opportunity education.

Williams, Juan. Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary. New York: Random House, Inc., 1998.
This biography documents Marshall’s legal career and the historical periods in which he lived. The author explores his complex personality, and the individuals with whom he interacted.