Several schools were added to a list of federally-recognized places that officially memorialize the 1954 Supreme Court decision desegregating public education across the country.
The additions were made official during a signing ceremony for the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park Expansion and Redesignation Act at the White House on Thursday afternoon.
Brown v. Board, of course, established that racially segregated schools in the U.S. were by definition unequal, ending the practices of segregation in many public school systems around the country. While school segregation is most visibly memorialized by photos and video of the National Guard escorting the Little Rock Nine into a previously segregated high school in Little Rock, Ark., the Brown case actually challenged segregation in the Topeka, Kan., public schools.
One of the four Topeka schools that had been designated for Black students only, Monroe Elementary School, was designated as the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in 1992, putting the building under the protection of the National Park Service.
Two schools in Summerton, S.C., were added to the official national parks site by today’s legislation. Summerton High School was a segregated school for all white students that was the subject of the 1950 Briggs v. Elliott lawsuit that challenged public school segregation. A federal court ruled in favor of segregation, setting the stage for Brown before the Supreme Court later.
Scott’s Branch High School was the “equalization school” the federal judges in Briggs ordered Summerton officials to establish to serve Black students, propping up the “separate-but-equal” doctrine later struck down by the Brown decision.
In addition to those schools, which are now part of the National Park System, Robert Russa Moton School in Farmville, Va., Howard High School in Wilmington, Del., Claymont High School in Claymont, Del., Hockessin Colored School #107 in Hockessin, Del. and John Philip Sousa Junior High School in Washington, D.C., were all added as “affiliated areas”, meaning they have historical significance but won’t be owned or managed by the Park Service.