Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center

Segregated America
The Battleground
Legal Campaign
Five Communities Change a Nation
The Decision
  • “With All Deliberate Speed”
  • Freedom Struggle
  • Equality for All
  • Changing Definitions
  • Communities Since Brown
  • Fifty Years After

Legacy: Achieving Equality

School Segregation cartoon

In the mid-1950s Americans remained deeply divided over the issue of racial equality. African Americans pressed to have the Brown decision enforced, and many people were unprepared for the intensity of resistance among white southerners. Likewise, defenders of the “southern way of life” underestimated the determination of their black neighbors.

The African American freedom struggle soon spread across the country. The original battle for school desegregation became part of broader campaigns for social justice. Fifty years after the Brown decision, the movement has come to include racial and ethnic minorities, women, people with disabilities, and other groups, each demanding equal opportunity.