In a move likely to bring more attention to the country’s civil rights history, President Biden on Thursday signed legislation that redesignates the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site as a “National Historic Park” and add properties under that umbrella.
The law calling for the name change, championed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, adds two school sites in South Carolina to the historic park upon its acquisition by the National Park Service, and designates schools in Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia as affiliates. National Park Service areas.
The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas, was originally established as part of the national park system on October 26, 1992.
“Expanding Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park to recognize sites in South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C. helps us tell more fully the story of the fight to end school segregation” , said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “The Supreme Court’s finding that racially segregated schools were unconstitutional was undoubtedly a pivotal event in our nation’s civil rights struggle and we are honored to serve as stewards of part of that story.”
“It is our solemn responsibility as custodians of America’s national treasures to tell the full, and sometimes difficult, story of our nation’s heritage for the benefit of present and future generations,” said Chuck Sams, director of the National Park Service. . “The inclusion of these significant sites will provide the public with a better understanding of the events leading up to the landmark 1954 United States Supreme Court decision in Brown and. c. Board of Education.”
This decision ended legal segregation in public schools.
From one-room shacks labeled “schools” to student-led strikes with more than 400 participants, the Brown v. Commission the decision was not based on a single case; rather, it was a ruling for a set of cases that all challenged racial segregation in public schools. With more than 200 total plaintiffs, cases were filed in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Virginia, South Carolina and Kansas.
The authorized additions to the park are:
- Summerton High School (Summerton, South Carolina). Built in 1936 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Summerton High School was an all-white school that refused to admit black students, prompting the Briggs vs. Elliott Case.
- Scott’s Branch High School (Summerton, SC). The former “Equalization School” was built for African American students in 1951 under the guise of providing facilities comparable to those of white students. Today, the old school is now the Community Resource Center owned by Clarendon School District 1.
The newly authorized affiliated zones are:
- Robert Russa Moton School (Farmville, Virginia). The all-black school was the site of a student-led strike in 1951 that led to Davis v. Prince Edward County County School Board. The old school is a National Historic Landmark and today serves as the Robert Russa Moton Museum, which is administered by the Moton Museum, Inc. and affiliated with Longwood University.
- Howard High School (Wilmington, DE), Claymont High School (Claymont, DE) and Hockessin Colored School #107 (Hockessin, DE)
- Howard High School, already a National Historic Landmark, was the first high school for African Americans in the state of Delaware and the school at which the plaintiffs in Belton versus Gebhart were forced to travel. Today the school is known as Howard High School of Technology and is administered by the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District.
- Claymont High School denied admission to the plaintiffs in the Belton versus Gebhart Case. Today, the old school is a community center.
- Hockessin Colored School #107 was an all-black school, one of the plaintiffs in Belton versus Gebhart had to show up without public transport. It is now used as a community facility.
- John Philip Sousa High School (Washington, DC). Built in 1950 in the Fort Dupont neighborhood, it was an all-white school where 12 African-American students were denied admission, prompting the Bolling vs. Sharpe Case. Today, the school serves as DC’s public college and was previously designated as a National Historic Landmark.
The Park Service will begin efforts to acquire the sites from volunteer vendors in South Carolina – Summerton High School and Scott’s Branch High School in Clarendon County. Although the three affiliated areas are not managed by the NPS, they will be eligible for technical and financial assistance from the NPS and must be managed in accordance with the laws generally applicable to sites in the national park system. The three new areas affiliated with Brown v. Board bring the total number of areas affiliated with the National Park Service to 30.
Of Traveler archives:
Exploring the Parks: Brown V. Board Of Education National Historic Site