Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center

Segregated America
The Battleground
  • The Educated Citizen
  • Quest for Education
  • Pursuit of Equality
Legal Campaign
Five Communities Change a Nation
The Decision

The Quest for Education

Tuskegee University

Tuskegee University

Despite the burdens of segregation and racism, some high schools and colleges for black students provided educational opportunities that rivaled those offered to white students. Morehouse College and Tuskegee, Howard, and Fisk universities have educated African Americans since the late 1800s. This history class is at Tuskegee University.
(Courtesy of Library of Congress)
Two photographs, Mexican school and Asian school

Separate public schools were often created for Asian, Latino, and Native American children. Where there were not enough children of a single racial group to form their own school, they were usually required to attend black institutions.

“Mexican school” class photograph in Cotulla, Texas, 1928. The young teacher in the center is Lyndon Johnson, who as president would sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(Courtesy of Lyndon B. Johnson Library Museum)

Lincoln School, Oakland, California, 1910

Paxville, South Carolina

Paxville, South Carolina

“Colored” and “white” schools in Paxville, South Carolina. In some southern states, white schools received two to three times more money per student than black schools. Black taxpayers in several states not only bore the entire cost of their own schools, but helped support white schools as well.
(Courtesy of South Carolina Department of Archives and History)
Textbook, stamped inside

Textbook, stamped inside

School administrators often took a hand-me-down approach to black schools. Outdated textbooks from white schools, such as this one from Raleigh, North Carolina, would be transferred to a local black school.
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