Brown v. Board of Education, 1954 eLesson

Celebrate Black History month with materials on two landmark Supreme Court cases on the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. How could the same words have been interpreted so differently in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and sixty years later in Brown v. Board of Education (1954)? Read some background on the cases, excerpts from the rulings, and thought-provoking discussion questions.

See the complete lesson.

Discussion Questions

  1. What Supreme Court decision established the doctrine of “separate but equal”?
  2. What Kansas law did the Brown plaintiffs want struck down?
  3. How did the Court rule, and what was the constitutional reasoning?
  4. What was the Brown II ruling?
  5. What role was there for other branches and levels of government in enforcing Brown II?
  6. Why might it have taken nearly sixty years to the Supreme Court to get to its current interpretation of the 14th Amendment?
  7. What might this suggest about the importance of looking at the historical context of Supreme Court rulings?

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