Photographer's Note

This is the site of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, in Topeka, which was established in 1992 by the US Congress to commemorate the landmark US Supreme Court decision which ended racial segregation in public schools. That occurred in 1954, when the court unanimously declared that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal and thus constituted a violation of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law. This school was one of four segregated elementary schools for black children in Topeka.

The site itself has an important history, as the abolitionist John Ritchie bought 160 acres, and the school board built a school for the children of persons of African-American descent, many of whom were freed slaves who had moved to Kansas after the Civil War. The land was purchased after Ritchie's death in 1877 and the first school on the site was built, in 1874, although another rented structure was used initially. This one was built in 1926 just south of the old one. It's a two-story brick and limestone structure in Italian Renaissance Revival style.

It was also the newest of the four segregated schools: the others were Buchanan, McKinley and Washington, which no longer stands. This school, although a well-built and equipped one, was still deemed insufficient because the act of separating children based on race was unconstitutional, as it inherently denied them equal treatment and access to equal educational opportunities.

The Monroe school was closed in 1975 due to declining enrollment and budgeting constraints, and it was then used as a warehouse and parking grounds for buses and vehicle maintenance. The grounds were then sold to a private owner, to the Church of the Nazarene, where it was used as a community outreach program center, but it was sold again, to an owner who intended to auction it. The Brown Foundation began fundraising efforts to save it, and finally a Trust for Public Land was established, which purchased the property in 1991, whereupon it was subsequently added as a National Historic Landmark. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush established the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic site, and it was transferred to the National Park Service in 1993. There are multiple exhibits at this site documenting not only the important court decision, but also the history of the Civil Rights movement. The site is free to visitors and is open most days of the year.

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 92 W: 78 N: 1201] (2118)
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