🏀 KU Men’s Basketball Tours Historic Brown v. Board of Education in Topeka

TOPEKA – Kansas men’s basketball spent part of its Wednesday morning taking a tour of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, learning about the impact the U.S. Supreme Court case had on desegregation.

With the rise of social injustice which has impacted several marginalized community members within the United States for the past two-plus years, Kansas men’s basketball has instigated nearly a dozen initiatives to educate themselves and to amplify these issues. Yesterday’s trip to the Brown v. Board of Education venue is a continuation of that education coordinated by the department of Inclusive Excellence and KU men’s basketball.

“It is such a great opportunity to come out here to the Brown v. Board of Education museum,” KU associate athletics director for inclusive excellence Paul Pierce said. “The importance of this experience is for our student-athletes, coaches and staff to engage in inclusive conversations and to educate one another on things that have, and continue to occur, in everyday life. The more we talk about concepts related to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, the more we can learn about one another as we work together to cultivate a welcoming community within our athletics department and within the greater KU community.”

The Jayhawks were given a tour of the museum learning about the pre- and post- history of the monumental case and showing the group what it was like during that era of segregated schools. The group started in the kindergarten classroom and moved throughout the National Historic Site venue.

“It was good to see all the artifacts, see what it was really like back then,” sophomore KJ Adams said. “I think it’s important to realize how far we have come as a nation, especially since everyone was segregated back then. It’s good to see how far we have come and how far we can go as long as we stick together.”

Historically, the plaintiff, Oliver Brown, filed a class-action suit against the Board of Education of Topeka in 1951, after his daughter, Linda Brown, was denied entrance to Topeka’s all-white elementary school.

In his lawsuit, Brown claimed that schools for African-American children were not equal to the white schools, and that segregation violated the so-called “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment which holds that no state can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The case went before the U.S. District Court in Kansas and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court. In the decision, issued on May 17, 1954, Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren wrote that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” as segregated schools are “inherently unequal.” As a result, the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs were being “deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”

In May 1955, the Supreme Court issued a second opinion in the case (known as Brown v. Board of Education II), which remanded future desegregation cases to lower federal courts and directed district courts and school boards to proceed with desegregation “with all deliberate speed.”

“Anytime you have an opportunity to come to such a historic site, it is always impactful to see what is going on today because of the decision,” Kansas director of basketball operations Fred Quartlebaum said. “We want to thank the Brown v. Board for having us and giving us an unbelievable tour. This has been a year or two in the making due to COVID-19. Now to come down here and get this tour, it has brought it full circle. This has been extremely impactful.”

History.com was a source for this release.