Video Writing Prompt: Brown v. Board of Education

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May 17 is the 59th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling. On this day in 1954, the Court unanimously ruled that it was unconstitutional to separate students on the basis of race. This ruling changed the face of public education, and dismantled the legal framework for racial segregation.

This Video Writing Prompt provides students with some background information on Brown v. Board of Education. After viewing the video, have students complete the following exercises, designed to improve their critical thinking skills.

If you're interested in more ideas on how to teach your students about this important Court decision, be sure to check out our Brown v. Board of Education activities list.

Grades K-2: Picture Perfect

Brown v. Board of Education was argued in front of the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States. Have students draw a picture depicting a courtroom scene. After they complete their drawings, ask students to explain what is happening their pictures.

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Grades 3-5: What if?

Brown v. Board of Education changed the face of public education. But what if the Court had ruled differently? Have students write a paragraph describing what schools today would be like if they were still legally segregated.

Grades 6-8: Change is Scary

The video describes the fear and anger some Caucasian Americans in the south felt when anyone spoke about desegregating schools and other public spaces. Even some African Americans were fearful of this change. Instruct your students to write a one-page paper that answers the following questions:

  • Why would some Caucasian Americans fear integration? Why would some African Americans fear integration?
  • Why was it important for the Court to ignore these fears and rule that schools should not be segregated?
  • What can society do to make sure that fear doesn't stop us from moving forward?

Grades 9-12: One Community

The Brown v. Board of Education decision is a watershed moment in the struggle for racial equality in America. The Court's decision played a key role in creating a more integrated society, where people of all races and ethnic backgrounds could live, work, study, and play together. Have your students write a two-page essay that:

  • Describes the diversity in their school, church or neighborhood,
  • Explains how, despite that diversity, the community manages to thrive, and
  • Discusses both the benefits and challenges of a diverse population.