A Famous Kansas Child by Carol Roach
Students will read about a Kansas child activities for student participation; 2)
involved in a famous United States Supreme students receive photocopies of the story to
Court case. They will think critically to read themselves, but questions and activities
form opinions about equality, segregation, are not included in the photocopies. Teacher
and integration. Students will distinguish chooses those questions/activities students
between fact and opinion. should address; or 3) students receive
photocopies of story and
Also includes: reading, research, questions/activities, thus participating in all
vocabulary, reporting, drawing, map skills, suggestions given.
role-playing, writing; authority, property,
freedom, diversity. A resource person can use this lesson by
reading the story to the children, interrupting
Materials Needed the text with the discussion questions at the
end of each chapter. The teacher can use the
One teacher copy or student photocopies of other suggestions as follow-up activities. If
A Famous Kansas Child (4 chapters); time does not allow covering the whole
drawing supplies; research materials; story in one day, the teacher could do the
photocopies of Which Is It? first chapter (or two chapters) and activities
in advance, then the resource person can
Procedures finish the story with the children and explain
the Supreme Court process and its decision.
This lesson can be used by the classroom
teacher alone, or by a teacher and resource In either case, it should be pointed out to the
person working together. A story has been children that the Supreme Court’s decision
written on the elementary level about Linda affected not just the students in Topeka,
Brown and the Supreme Court case of Kansas, but in all of the United States.
Brown v. Board of Education. The story is
divided into four short “chapters,” with Present any necessary vocabulary words to
questions or activities provided at the end of the students before reading each chapter.
each. Suggested vocabulary words include:
If used by the teacher alone, all of the story Chapter 1 – Oliver, Leola, troupers,
may be covered in one day, or it may be welders, solemn, pastor
broken by chapters into several days’ Chapter 2 – Monroe, weathervane,
lessons. The story can be read to the sculpture, Sumner
children by the teacher, or it can be Chapter 3 – podium, situation,
duplicated and used in place of a reading organization, Advancement,
assignment from the basal text. Any of the segregation/segregated,
questions or activities can be used to testified, integration
stimulate discussion and critical thinking. Chapter 4 – Amendment, guaranteed,
The teacher might choose one of three ways
to use these materials: 1) the teacher reads
the story to the students and may choose
only some or all of the questions and
A Famous Child laugh and feel happy. Friday nights were
special times, and Linda’s favorite. The
This is a true story about a little girl in family would pop popcorn and then Mr. And
Topeka, Kansas, who didn’t really know that Mrs. Brown would tell wonderful stories
anything special was happening in her life. about when they were children.
And yet her name became known by people
all over the United Stated. Her name, and Each night Mr. Brown would listen to the
facts about her life, introduced one of the girls’ bedtime prayers. On Sundays, the
most important cases ever to be decided by family went to Sunday school and church.
the Supreme Court. Mr. Brown gave much of his Sunday time,
and any other time he could, to work at the
CHAPTER 1 church as an assistant pastor. The church
was an important part of life for everyone in
Linda Carol Brown was seven years old. the Brown family.
She lived with her father, Oliver, and her
mother, Leola, and two younger sisters in a
poor neighborhood in Topeka, Kansas. It 1. In what ways was Linda’s life the same
was a very noisy neighborhood, because it as yours?
was right next to a switching yard for trains. 2. In what ways was it different?
Linda and her sisters didn’t mind the noise. 3. Draw a picture to illustrate one part of
They liked making up games about the this story.
trains, and they made friends with many of
the trainmen who ran the switches. Some of CHAPTER 2
these friends gave them candy. One man
played a teasing game with them. Every Linda went to Monroe School, which was a
time he saw the three girls, he would wave mile away from where she lived. Getting to
and yell, “Hi boys!” The girls would laugh school was not easy. She had to leave home
and call back, “Hi Mary!” The man was so by 7:40 each morning to walk to a bus stop
jolly, he reminded Linda of Santa Claus. that was six blocks away. She started off by
walking between the train tracks that went
The girls also liked being near the railroad through the switching yard. Even though
yard because when the big fair came to this was dangerous, it was easier than trying
town, the show cars were brought up on the to walk outside the tracks, because the street
siding, and the children who lived nearby was crowded with warehouses and there
would be the first to see them and the first to were no sidewalks. The bus was supposed
know the fair was in town. There were to arrive by 8:00. Sometimes it did.
bright silver flatcars and troupers’ quarters, Sometimes it was late. When it was late,
and the red and yellow cars that held the Linda would have to stand and wait – often
animals. in freezing cold weather, or rain, or snow.
When the bus was on time, she could get
When Linda was inside her home, life was right on, but then she would arrive at school
much quieter. Her father worked at a a half-hour before it opened, so she still
different kind of railroad job, about a half would have to stand outside and wait. That
mile away. He was a welder who repaired was the only bus that could take her to
boxcars. He was very tired when he school, so there was no way that Linda
returned home at night and often took a little could make the trip without having to stand
nap as soon as he arrived. When he woke, out in the weather at one place or the other.
everyone would come quietly to the dinner
table and remain solemn until grace was When Linda was ready to start third grade,
said. Then Mr. Brown would joke with his her father surprised her by saying he was
family during dinner and everyone would going to walk her to her first day of school.
Then he surprised her even more by taking a stand up on the podium. As she stood there
different route. They went the opposite a voice asked loudly, “Why should this child
direction from the trains for about three be forced to travel so far to school each
blocks, then turned onto a pleasant tree-lined day?”
street with small, neat houses. After
walking three more blocks, they came to a Linda didn’t hear very much about the
school. It was lighter and prettier than school situation after that. But the rest of
Monroe School, with a little tower on one the country did. There was an organization
end that was topped by a fancy weather called the N-Double-A-C-P, which stood
vane. On the other end was a big wall for: The National Association for the
sculpture of a cheerful sun beaming down Advancement of Colored People. With the
on children who were running, jumping help of the NAACP, Oliver Brown sued the
rope, rolling a hoop, and flying a kite. Topeka Board of Education. According to
the law, it was okay for the black and white
Linda wasn’t sure why they had come to this children to be sent to separate schools, as
school, and she could tell her father was long as those schools were considered to be
uneasy as he took her hand and walked up equal. The school authorities said the
the front steps. Once inside, they were schools were equal. Although Sumner
directed to the principal’s office. Linda was School was a little newer and prettier,
told to wait outside the door while her father Monroe School had a larger playground and
went in to talk to the principal. He was only fewer cracks in the walls. Both schools had
there a few minutes, then he came out and good teachers (all white teachers at Sumner;
took her hand again. As they walked home, all black teachers at Monroe). The teachers
Linda could tell that her father was very all had about the same size classes, and were
upset. Even though Sumner School was so paid the same amount of money. Although
much closer to their home than Monroe most of the black children lived farther away
School, the principal said Linda could not go from their schools than the white children
to school there. Sumner School was for did, buses were provided for them. There
white children only. Linda Brown was were no buses for any of the white children.
black. The school authorities said the people were
used to things being this way, and not
everyone wanted change. They said the
1. How do you think Linda felt? Why? children should continue to be segregated, or
2. How do you think Mr. Brown felt? separated.
3. What would you do if you were Linda? The people who testified in court on behalf
4. Draw a map to represent Linda’s house, of Linda (and others like her) said that these
the route to Monroe School, and the facts did not make the schools equal. The
route to Sumner School. very fact that the children were separated
made the schools unequal. The people said
CHAPTER 3 that the separation could make the children
think they were different from one another,
Linda went back to Monroe School. One instead of teaching them that they could
night, not long after school had started for learn from each other. It meant that as
the year, her father took her to a meeting adults, they would not work as well together
that was held at a church – a different or get along in our world because they had
church than the one they usually attended. not been taught to be together as children.
There were lots of grown-ups at the meeting, They said the children should not be
and Linda didn’t understand what they were separated and should go to the schools
talking about. But after a while, she was closest to them.
called to the front of the room and asked to
which may have been decided correctly in
their time – were no longer correct in the
1. You be the judge. If you had to decide 1950s. It said that separate was not equal,
whether to keep the children in separate and that children of all races should be
schools or let them attend the school allowed to go to school together, in the
closest to their homes, which would you schools in their neighborhoods.
2. Role-play the situation. Ask two Linda Brown never testified in court. But
students to pretend to be parents who her father did, and so did many other people
still want segregation (white students who had not even met her. Even though
and black students separated). Ask two they were criticized by others, they worked
other students to pretend to be parents hard for what they believed. Brown v.
who want integration (both races Board of Education is still one of the most
attending the same schools). What famous cases in American history.
would these parents say? How could
each try to convince the others to change 1. Below are the names of some of the
their minds? other famous people who participated in
this case. Choose one name and read
CHAPTER 4 about that person. Share what you learn
with your classmates.
The court decided that the schools should Thurgood Marshall John W. Davis
continue to be segregated. Three judges had Earl Warren
listened to the presentations. Although not 2. Write a paragraph about something you
all of them felt that this was the right thing have learned from another student in
to do, they felt they had no choice. Other your class. Write a second paragraph
cases that had been decided by the Supreme about something you have helped
Court all supported the idea that separate- another student learn.
but-equal was okay, and this case seemed to 3. Read a book and write a report about
fit the separate-but-equal guidelines. another famous American who has
helped our country live up to the words,
The lawyers for the NAACP, Mr. Brown, “All men are created equal.”
and people in the other states with similar
cases all decided to take this case to the
Supreme Court. They said this case was Additional Follow-up Activity
different. The other cases were about Fact and Opinion: Which Is It?
transportation or students in college – not
elementary school students. They said that This is an optional follow-up activity that
the Fourteenth Amendment to the not only helps students learn to distinguish
Constitution guaranteed everyone equal between fact and opinion but can also
protection under the law, and that these stimulate further discussion about the Brown
elementary school students were not being case. Ask students to define the words fact
protected equally. The case was called and opinion. Give the following examples
Brown v. Board of Education, (“v.” stands for students to distinguish as fact or opinion.
for versus, which means against) and was
argued before the Supreme Court in 1953. It 1. We study more than one subject each
was almost a year later – May 17, 1954 – day. (fact)
when the justices made a decision. 2. Math is a more difficult subject than
It was one of the most important decisions 3. Reading is the most important subject
made in the history of the United States, we study. (opinion)
because it said that the previous cases –
When satisfied that students understand the
difference between the two terms, have them Carol Roach is the author of the
distinguish fact from opinion in the LIFE/LIBERTY/LAW curriculum series.
statements below. The statements can be As president of the Curriculum Leadership
duplicated, or the teacher can read them Institute (Emporia, KS), Carol writes and
aloud. edits publications on current education
practices, and serves as a consultant to
Write F in the blank if the statement is a school districts, consortia, education service
fact. Write O in the blank if the statement is agencies, and state departments of
an opinion. education nationwide. This article is
adapted by permission from the magazine
____ 1. Linda Brown lived near the Update on Law-Related Education (Winter
railroad switchyard. 1990). Portions of the strategy’s narrative
____ 2. Living near a switchyard is fun. were adapted from Simple Justice: The
____ 3. The Browns were happier than History of Brown v. Board of Education and
most families. Black America’s Struggle for Equality, by
____ 4. Even if the bus had always been on Richard Kluger (Alfred A. Knopf, New York)
time, Linda’s trip to
school would still have been
____ 5. Sumner School was closer to
Linda’s house than Monroe
____ 6. The principal at Sumner School
was a very mean person.
____ 7. Sumner School was a better
school than Monroe School.
____ 8. Children can learn more if they
go to an integrated school.
____ 9. The Fourteenth Amendment to the
Constitution guarantees equal
protection to all citizens.
___ 10. Brown v. Board of Education was
an important Supreme Court case
because it ended segregation in our
Answers for Which Is It? are:
1. F 6. O
2. O 7. O
3. O 8. O
4. F 9. F
5. F 10. F