President Biden Signs Law to Expand and Redesignate Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park

Interior Department

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland joined President Biden as he signed the Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park Expansion and Redesignation Act into law today, providing for inclusion of additional related sites in the National Park System to reflect a more complete story of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in public schools in 1954.

This law, championed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, redesignates the existing historic site in Topeka, Kansas to Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park. The law also adds two school sites in South Carolina to the historical park upon acquisition by the National Park Service (NPS), and designates schools in Delaware, Virginia and the District of Columbia as affiliated areas of the NPS. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas, was originally established as part of the National Park System on October 26, 1992.

“The expansion of Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park to recognize sites in South Carolina, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C. helps us to more fully tell the story of the struggle to end school segregation,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. ”The Supreme Court’s finding that racially segregated schools were unconstitutional was unquestionably a pivotal event in our nation’s civil rights struggle and we are honored to serve as stewards to part of that history.” 

“It is our solemn responsibility as caretakers of America’s national treasures to tell the whole, and sometimes difficult, story of our nation’s heritage for the benefit of present and future generations,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “Including these important sites will broaden public understanding of the events that led to the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown et. al v. Board of Education.”

From single-room shacks labeled “schools,” to student-led strikes with more than 400 participants, the Brown v. Board decision didn’t stem from a single case; rather it was a ruling for a bundling of cases that all challenged racial segregation in public schools. With more than 200 total plaintiffs, the cases were filed in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Virginia, South Carolina, and Kansas.

The authorized additions to the park are: 

  • Summerton High School (Summerton, SC). Built in 1936 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Summerton High School was an all-white school that refused to admit black students prompting the Briggs v. Elliott case. 
  • Scott’s Branch High School (Summerton, SC). The former “equalization school” was constructed for African American students in 1951 under the guise of providing facilities comparable to those for white students. Today, the former school is now the Community Resource Center owned by Clarendon School District 1.

The newly authorized affiliated areas are:

  • Robert Russa Moton School (Farmville, VA). The all-black school was the location of a student-led strike in 1951 that lead to Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County. The former school is a National Historic Landmark, and today serves as the Robert Russa Moton Museum, which is administered by the Moton Museum, Inc., and affiliated with Longwood University.
  • Howard High School (Wilmington, DE), Claymont High School (Claymont, DE), and Hockessin Colored School #107 (Hockessin, DE)
    • Howard High School, already a National Historic Landmark, was the first high school for African Americans in the state of Delaware and the school to which the plaintiffs in Belton v. Gebhart were forced to travel. Today, the school is known as Howard High School of Technology and is administered by the New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District.
    • Claymont High School denied admission to the plaintiffs in the Belton v. Gebhart case. Today, the former school is a community center.
    • Hockessin Colored School #107 was an all-Black school one of the plaintiffs in Belton v. Gebhart was required to attend without public transportation. It is now used as a community facility.
  • John Philip Sousa Junior High School (Washington, D.C.). Built in 1950 in the Fort Dupont neighborhood, this was an all-white school where 12 African American students were denied admission, spurring the Bolling v. Sharpe case. Today, the school serves as a DC public middle school and was previously designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The NPS will begin efforts to acquire the sites from willing sellers in South Carolina-Summerton High School and Scott’s Branch High School in Clarendon County. While the three affiliated areas will not be managed by the NPS, they will be eligible for NPS technical and financial assistance and be required to be managed in accordance with laws generally applicable to sites in the National Park System. The three new Brown v. Board affiliated areas bring the total number of areas affiliated with the NPS to 30.

To learn more about Brown v. Board National Historical Park, visit the Park Service’s website.

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