5/14/2014

Brownback and Jenkins commemorate desegregation and dedicate new exhibit

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site News Release

Release date: Immediate
Contact(s): Dave Smith 
Phone number: (785) 354-4273

Governor Brownback and Congresswoman Jenkins Commemorate 
60 Years of Desegregation and Dedicate New Kindergarten Exhibit


Topeka, KS – Governor Sam Brownback and Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins will commemorate 60 years of desegregation in public education and dedicate the park’s newly refurbished kindergarten classroom, Friday, May 16, at 11 a.m. at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. The event is free and open to the public. 

The event will highlight the important role Topeka played in the fight to desegregate schools leading up to the 1954 Brown v. Topeka Board of Education decision and will be held on the steps of the historic Monroe school.

Joyce Scott Grigsby, local NAACP chapter president, will share her experience of growing up in Kansas when Jim Crow legislation was the law of the land. Joining her will be Lena Martinez and Morgan Michner, area high school students from the park’s Youth Advisory Council discussing their experience growing up in a post-Brown world. The Williams Magnet School Kindergarten Choir will be on hand as well to honor the event with a song. 

The event will mark the public dedication of the park’s new kindergarten classroom. This 1954 modeled exhibit was refurbished by the park to meet the community’s request for a representative classroom from a pre-Brown world. The park historian and staff worked closely with teachers and the state archives to design a room that accurately represented Monroe Elementary’s.

“We are thrilled to be able to dedicate this new exhibit on the same day we mark 60 years of desegregation and on the park’s 10th anniversary, ” said Stephanie Kyriazis, Chief of Interpretation, Education, and Cultural Resources. “With the First Lady’s visit to Topeka and so many events commemorating the Brown decision, the public has a great opportunity to reconnect with the site.”

As part of the commemoration, the park will also put into permanent display its newest artifact, the doll used by Dr. Clark in his ground breaking work on race and children. In the 1940’s, Dr. Clark showed how children from segregated communities reacted negatively to black dolls and positively to white ones. This research was used by the Supreme Court in making their decision in the Brown case.

Since it was common for kindergarten classrooms to have garden plots as part of their education, park staff will also use the occasion to open a demonstration garden. Park interns will work with local students this summer to begin planting and tending plants in the garden.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site tells the story of the U.S. Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site is located at 1515 SE Monroe Street in Topeka, Kansas, and is open free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The site is open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. For more information call 785-354-4273 or visit www.nps.gov/brvb and www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps

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