Charline Barnes Rowland, E. Anne Pegram, Sharon B. Yates
Keeping the Promise of the Brown Legacy through
Literacy with Collaboration
Rebekah E. Piper
Laurie A. Sharp, Ed.D.
Roberta D. Raymond, Ed.D.
Mary Jo Fresch
Books and Multimedia on School Desegregation. Maya Angelou once said that when one knows better, one should do better. As part of professional development, many schools have book clubs where teachers usually focus on issues of instruction and assessment in various content areas. They discuss and incorporate new knowledge and strategies into their lessons. Shouldn’t teachers read books and view films about the dismantling of inequity in education? Not only would history come alive, but it would be more relevant in reducing unconscious (implicit) biases that are brought into teaching, regardless of the school demographics. Senior researcher on race and ethnicity, Cheryl Staats (2016) wrote:
A large body of social science evidence has shown that implicit biases can be activated by identities we perceive in others, such as race, ethnicity, gender or age. Since these robust associations are a critical component of our System 1 processing, everyone has implicit biases, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or age (pp. 30-31).
While books like Silent Covenants by Derrick Bell and After Brown by Charles Clotfelter provide academic and legal information, teachers would also benefit from reading children and young adult books and viewing videos on school desegregation/integration (see Appendix B). They would gain perspectives from children, obtain facts, and value the lessons learned during this difficult period in American history.
Diverse Curriculum. Embracing a diverse curriculum also help students obtain knowledge about different cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds. It also assists them in making connections between academic topics, career goals, and real life. Anne and Charline (2011) did this when they created a middle school interdisciplinary project that focused on print and non-print sources to learn about the Virginia case within Brown v Board of Education. The students visited historical site and interviewed some of the African-American elders who attended the segregated school. With the Internet, there are opportunities for virtual field trips through websites such as:
● Brown versus Board of Education
● Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Site www.nps.gov/brvb/
● Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
● Virginia - Robert Russa Moton Museum
Furthermore, video conferencing with guest speakers on civil rights in education would also help expose students to the world of primary sources. Learners can listen to the speakers’ own stories about their school experiences.
As we celebrate the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, remember there were other court cases prior to this landmark one. Advocating for school equality extends back many, many decades. It is a continuous fight across the United States. For example, there was Sylvia Mendez, a civil rights activist of Mexican-Puerto Rican heritage, who was the key child in the Mendez v. Westminster desegregation case in 1946 in California. Her landmark case became the first in federal court to find segregation of students based on race in violation of the 14th Amendment (Tonatiuh, 2014). We need to stop making our children the victims of hate! However, utilizing the above approaches by collaborating with diverse communities will assist in promoting social justice and equity in education.
Brown Foundation. (n.d.). Combined Brown Cases, 1951-54. Available: https://brownvboard.org/content/combined-brown-cases-1951-54
CNN Library (2018, April 24). Brown v. Board of Education Fast Facts. Available: https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/04/us/brown-v-board-of-education/index.html
Hammond, Z. (2014). Culturally responsive teaching and the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically diverse students. California: Corwin Press.
Irvine, J. J., & Armento, B. J. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Lesson planning for elementary and middle grades. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Rowland, C. B. & Pegram, E. A. (2011, Fall). Engaging students in and out of the classroom: The R.R. Moton Museum project. North Carolina Middle School Association Journal, 26(1), 1-10.
Staats, C. (2016). Understanding implicit bias. Education Digest, 82(1), pp. 29-38.
Teaching for Change. (n.d.). Tellin’ Stories Family Partners Series. Available: www.teachingforchange.org
Tonatiuh, D. (2014). Separate is never equal: Sylvia Mendez & her family’s fight for desegregation. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.
U.S. Department of Education. (2011-12). Public school teacher data file. Washington, DC: