Brown v. Board of Education: Document A, Virginia Criminal Code (1847)

Do you use document-based questions in your classroom?

This fall the Bill of Rights Institute is blogging a document-based question on the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Each weekly post will feature an excerpted document related to the case, along with some questions to guide your thinking on it. Each document should be used to address the question: “Assess the role played by the Court as the protector of individual rights against the tyranny of the majority in Brown v. Board of Education.”

Virginia Criminal Code (1847)

Any white person who shall assemble with slaves, [or] free Negros … for the purpose of instructing them to read or write … shall be punished by confinement in the jail … and by fine.…

>What does this law reveal about African Americans’ access to education in mid-nineteenth century Virginia?

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Check back each week to see the next document and how it might change your thinking on this important question that affects all public school teachers and students in the U.S.! If you are enjoying this DBQ – be sure to check out our curriculum Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases the Changed History.

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