Sunday, June 25, 2017

Day 13: En Route to Denver

Got off to a late start this day, but we were on the road by 10am and even had breakfast on the road, in Topeka, KS.

And you might think that was all there was to do in Topeka, Kansas, but you would be happily mistaken, like I was.

Google's useful location services let me know that I was near the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, so to the historic site we went!

It was interesting to learn more about this landmark Supreme Court case, especially with this school in particular, which was in pretty good shape. One would assume that such was the case because the country is invested in the wellbeing of this building, but even in the pictures of the school when it had students, it was not in disrepair in the slightest.

But that does not sound historically accurate, right? The storyline we are familiar with is that the respective Black counters to White facilities were, without fail, abhorrently inferior. And for the most part, this was true.
So why then, does the actual school of the namesake Brown in the momentous Brown v. Board ruling appear to be just fine?
Well, it was a class action suit, so there were hundred of cases of Black schools in the same counties as White ones that were of far lower quality-- most of these cases were investigated and collected by the NAACP--, and Brown's name just happened to be at the top of the list of those filing for the suit. If you find the legal documents, you'll see that the appellants, those filing suit, ends in "et al.", which is Latin for "and others." The tour guide here really gave a thorough explanation of the history, which I appreciated.

So why did Brown file suit? Well, he lived far closer to a White school than the Black one, so it made geographical sense for his child to attend the school closer to his home, but these laws got in the way of common sense so he decided to join in on this class suit.

This was not the only issue with segregation in schools, though. Among a plethora of other issues, there was also the internalized racism and other psychological effects on students put in these situations. The historic site also had one of the infamous dolls used in case studies and trials of how segregation effects how Black children view themselves and Whites.
For those unfamiliar with these trials, questions would be posed to young children like, "Which is the pretty/smart/nice doll? Which is the ugly/stupid/mean doll?" and all of the desirable traits were attributed to the White doll.

All of this made for a very fulfilling and informative stop along our way to Denver, with major historical significance in an otherwise unassuming area. Really, the acts of these people are probably to thank for my capability to be on this trip and write this blog.

"Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1)." Oyez, Accessed 25 Jun. 2017.

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