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Curriculum - 11th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1945-1990 (Kansas_Benchmark 3) - Brown v. Board (Indicator 1) - Kansas' lead role in the Supreme Court case

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Airmail Special Letter: Robert Carter to Mckinley Burnett

Airmail Special Letter: Robert Carter to Mckinley Burnett
Date: March 31, 1953
Attorney Robert Carter acknowledges receipt of a copy of a letter from McKinley Burnett sent with an enclosed memo from Superintendent of Topeka Schools, Kenneth McFarland. Carter advises Burnett that if the McFarland proceeds in this (possible dismissal of Negro teachers) he would immediately initiate a court action. Carter further advises that he would be in Des Moines and that he would be happy to meet any teachers who have received "these notices."


Charles E. Bledsoe to the NAACP Legal Department

Charles E. Bledsoe to the NAACP Legal Department
Creator: Bledsoe, Charles E.
Date: September 5, 1950
In the letter, Charles E. Bledsoe, attorney for the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP, outlines the general nature of Topeka's situation as influenced by local laws. In particular, Bledsoe refers to the Kansas Permissive Law of 1879 that allowed individual school districts to segregate schools if they so desired. However, the law did not mandate school segregation in Kansas. The response to this letter is Kansas Memory item #213410.


Charles I. Baston interview

Charles I. Baston interview
Creator: Baston, Charles I.
Date: May 14, 1992
Charles Baston was born in Lee's Summit, Missouri, on April 24, 1917. He attended grade school and junior high school while still living in Lee's Summit, and after junior high he moved to Topeka to attend the Kansas Vocational Technical School. He moved to Topeka permanently after his World War II discharge. Baston was a member of the executive committee of the local chapter of the NAACP during the Brown v. Board hearings. Much of his interview deals with the NAACPs role in finding plaintiffs in the Brown case, the problem with busing students to segregated schools, and other individuals who were instrumental to the success of this suit. Towards the end of the interview he also talks about how the Brown decision has not reached its full potential because of the racial prejudices that still exist today. Jean VanDelinder conducted the interview. The Brown v. Board oral history project was funded by Hallmark Cards Inc., the Shawnee County Historical Society, the Brown Foundation for Educational Excellence, Equity, and Research, the National Park Service, and the Kansas Humanities Council. Parts of the interview may be difficult to hear due to the quality of the original recording.


Harold R. Fatzer to J. Lindsay Almond Jr.

Harold R. Fatzer to J. Lindsay Almond Jr.
Creator: Fatzer, Harold R
Date: July 13, 1951
In this letter, Attorney General of Kansas Harold Fatzer responds to a letter by J. Lindsay Almond, Attorney General of Virginia. Almond had inquired about a school segregation suit against the Topeka Board of Education. Fatzer mentions a similar case in South Carolina, Briggs v. Elliott, and states that the plaintiffs in the Topeka case were arguing that segregation violated their rights under the 14th Amendment. Virginia would later join Kansas as one of the five states represented in the case Brown v. Board of Education. This case reached the U. S. Supreme Court, and in 1954 segregated school facilities were declared unconstitutional. Attached to this letter is Almond's initial inquiry.


NAACP Legal Defense Fund to Charles Bledsoe

NAACP Legal Defense Fund to Charles Bledsoe
Date: September 18, 1950
In his reply to Topekan attorney Charles Bledsoe, NAACP legal counsel Robert L. Carter outlined his initial thoughts on strategies and approaches to the case. Two of Carter's main points were that the Topeka NAACP should recruit "as many plaintiffs and their parents from various grades from the lowest to the highest," and that the case be tried in a three-judge court in order to "by-pass the U.S. Court of Appeals and go directly into the U.S. Supreme Court." The letter from Charles Bledsoe prompting this reply is Kansas Memory item #213409.


Robert Carter to Herbert Bell

Robert Carter to Herbert Bell
Date: September 14, 1951
Carter's letter to Bell can be used in conjunction with his letter to Burnett to help students appreciate the scale of the effort that preceded the Brown case's arrival at the U.S. Supreme Court.


Speech, Des Moines, Iowa

Speech, Des Moines, Iowa
Creator: Todd, Lucinda Wilson, 1903-1996
Date: 1953
Lucinda Todd made this speech in Des Moines, Iowa, on the background of the Brown v. Board segregation case. The primary goal of the speech was to raise funds for the attorneys fees required to take the case to the Supreme Court. The speech also provides an excellent recounting of the issues that spawned the Brown case, including the Topeka, Kansas, African-American community's problems with Superintendent Dr. Kenneth McFarland and, Director of Negro Schools, Harrison Caldwell.


Walter White to Lucinda Todd

Walter White to Lucinda Todd
Creator: White, Walter Francis, 1893-1955
Date: September 13, 1950
This Letter mentions the receipt of Todd's letter of August 29, 1950, about the situation in Topeka's elementary schools. White mentioned that he would immediately refer the letter to his legal department and said that Todd should expect to hear from him shortly.


"Why Kansas?" asks an editor

"Why Kansas?" asks an editor
Creator: Topeka Capital
Date: December 20, 1953
This brief article outlines the reasons behind Kansas's prominent role in the desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education, which was currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the unidentified author, out of the five states involved in the national case (Kansas, Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, and the District of Columbia), Kansas was the only state that did not mandate segregation by law, although segregation was permitted at the high school level in Kansas City and at the elementary school level in larger towns and cities, such as Topeka. Kansas was also the only state not located in the South.


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