Brown v. Board: General Discussion Questions

Overview: 

Discuss the impact of Brown v. Board and the current state of segregation using articles from Teaching Tolerance magazine's special anniversary section.

Explore Teaching Tolerance magazine's special anniversary section on Brown v. Board. Print the articles and distribute them to your students before engaging them in a discussion using the following questions.

An American Legacy

Brown v. Board Is...

Timeline of School Integration

Bus Boycott

1. What do you think segregated schools were like in pre-1954 America? In what parts of the country were schools segregated? Were schools in your state segregated? How was the experience of a black student in public school different from that of a white student?

2. The Brown decision called for school desegregation to happen with "all deliberate speed." How quickly — and how fully — do you think schools de-segregated?

3. The Supreme Court decision has come to be known, in shorthand form, as Brown v. Board of Education. But that one name represents several cases. What other cities and states were involved in court battles to end public school segregation? How were these cases alike? How were they different?

4. What is segregation? Does it still exist? Other than schools, where have segregation battles been fought?

5. Different groups in the United States reacted differently to the Brown decision. How did African Americans react? Were all African Americans in favor of the decision? How did white Americans react? Where in the United States was the strongest reaction felt against Brown?

6. Is your school segregated? In what ways? What could you do to work against that segregation, bringing more integration to your school?

7. Do you believe in what Brown v. Board stands for? How close to — or far from — fully embracing the Brown decision are we, as a society? What else needs to happen for us to move closer to the ideals of Brown?

8. How would schools have looked in your area had the Supreme Court not ruled against segregation in 1954? How would your life, and the lives of other students, be different?