All Community Comments

Thank you to Gilder Lehrman, to Drs. Alexander and Woestman, and all of the other contributors to this week, including the other participants. This has been very helpful for me to learn more about a period of history that I previously knew about in a very cursory way. I look forward to going through all of the material that the seminar participants have posted and figuring out how best to help ELL students understand this and other topics. I am glad that we will have access to this site as I need a lot of time to process all of this valuable information.

To visit the Brown National Historic Site provided an opportunity to visit history. To say the least, the visit was emotionally wrenching and thought provoking. We often say every student should experience "this"; however, this is one opportunity all students should avail themselves.

Most of you are younger than me

Therefore I am thinking that many of you have never seen clips of a CBS special put on over a bunch of nights in 1968 called "Black History: Lost Stolen or Strayed"

It was hosted by Bill Cosby and was watched by a lot of people. For many it was their first exposure to Black History beyond slavery. On part I always use is a part where they have a psychologist analyze picture drawn by White and Black children. It substitutes for Kenneth Clark's contribution to the Brown case. My students have always gotten into it either in History or Psych

Coming here to a Gilder Lehrman seminar, I was excited about not only what I would learn, but who I would get the change to interact with here at the University of Kansas. I have the great opportunity to work with teachers every day at my job with the National Park Service, but was inspired, motivated and challenged by this group here. I will leave here with the ability now to take events surrounding the LRCHS crisis and put them into a deeper context and use the styles and methods of my new friends here from our seminar. I can imagine a flowchart of history that shows our visitors or the students I will work with in the future the way in which we arrive at 1500 S. Park Street on September 4, 1957. To see the heroic struggle of the Little Rock Nine without the context of Truman’s efforts in the previous decade, DDE’s work with the lower/higher courts and the road leading to and from Brown would only educate someone singularly and forego the deeper moments of this movement. Shawn and Clarence gave us the meaning and methodology of so many vital figures, moments and results leading to this moment in our collective history. To be in this place with these people; to have this chance to see, hear, and experience; to have the resources and the renewed ability to change the way in which we comprehend history – this is what will carry with me once home and every day in which I have the opportunity to be in a place where agents of change once walked. I will use the things I take from this placer to foster civic dialogue, both in a historical and a contemporary context, and introduce our audience to multiple ways in which to learn. By offering various methods to learn, I will have the greater capacity to effect and inspire other minds as the NPS works to continually preserve, protect and present our cultural resources to future generations.

When I reflect back on this week, the item that I would include in my teaching practice with more detail is Truman and Eisenhower's actions/reactions to the need to address segregation in American society. What was made clear was that these were not simple decisions, but rather were colored by the times- The Cold War, the brutality returning African-American soldiers were facing, political motivations, and personal conviction. I want my students to understand that the Presidents had been placed in the intersection, as Professor Yohuru Williams says, and had to decide which direction they would move. Their decisions on which way to move, because of their position, would bring the whole nation along- some willingly and some unwillingly.

I have additional material tons of it that I will share with the group once I locate my flash drives.
youtube Emmett Till Parts 1-17
http://www.usmedu/crop/html/evers2.htm Emmett Till Niagara Movement Niagara Movement
Dwight D. Eisenhoer Presidential Librart
Box 54 PLetter from Walter White to Pres. Eisenhower
Box 4 Press Conference Civil Rightd & Powell Amendment
Box 6 The Racial Issue Pamhlet

I arrived in Lawrence, Kansas, with several goals: gain a greater understanding of this important era in U.S. History, learn from the experts, network with colleagues, acquire additional primary resources and strategies............all while being in the place where much of this history took place. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Thanks to Drs. Alexander and Woestman for their obvious, hard work and preparation for this seminar. Lastly, thanks to the Gilder Lehrman Institute for making it possible.

The field trip to Topeka to visit the Brown vs. Board of Education site again demonstrated to me the ordinary, everyday places in the world that make history. Students will often think that the White House, the Supreme Court and the Capitol building are the places in this nation where everything happens (or does not happen depending on the period in time). This National Park, in the middle of the city of Topeka, belies this notion.
I have been told by a colleague at my school that this was a good place to visit, and I agree. The displays and the films gave a good context to the movement.
The discussion that we had in the classroom toward the end of the day raised a lot of emotions among participants. I always need time to reflect about what is discussed before responding. A lot of the topics brought up reminded me of sessions during graduate school 19 years ago, which distressed me somewhat. Although it is positive that people are still talking, it is unfortunate that problems mentioned in the early 1990s still plague the school systems, the country and the culture.
Ideally, the teaching force would better reflect the population of the country, but as several participants mentioned, the qualifications of the teachers are more important than the racial balancing of a staff. There are times that a student may need to speak to a man or a woman, or a person of a particular background, in order to feel more comfortable, but this is not always possible. As James said, it is vital for teachers to get to know the students before them and as Tracy said, to use whatever time we have with our students to push them as much as we can. Students of any background know when we do not have particularly high expectations, and generally resent us when we do not expect enough.
The desegregation issue remains problematic, as it appears that many of this nation's districts are becoming more segregated again. And unlike in the mid 1950s, during which time the focus was almost exclusively on black and white, there are large masses of students, particularly Asians and Hispanics,whose needs must also be met by schools in their communities. Tensions between and among groups will continue to shift the dynamic as we move forward, and depending on where each of us teaches, the tensions will reflect the demographics of our communities. In recent times, my school district has had problems between students born in Africa or the Caribbean and African-Americans. There have also been issues between Hispanics and Asians, and whites and Hispanics. When there is no one group that constitutes more than 50% of a student body, it is less likely that any one can completely dominate all elements (academic, athletic, extra-curricular) of school life. I suppose that this is one positive result of integration.

This was my first visit to an archive. The volume of resources available for viewing was overwhelming. It was exciting to view and touch actual documents composed by various contributors to history. For example, the grief and indignation of Mrs. Mamie Bradley, mother of Emmett Till, results in a telegraph message to the President Then, in the same folder was J. Edgar Hoover's FBI letter to the President urging the President not to intervene in the Till investigation. This information is seldom, if ever, published within the average American History textbook. These documents will be excellent resources to juxtapose opposing perspectives with students. These resources would not have been available at any other facility other than the Eisenhower Library. This particular seminar would not be as enriching nor rewarding if the location was not in the University of Kansas area.

Thank you to Dr. Kelly Woestman, Dr. Shawn Leigh Alexander, and all the scholars and presenters for providing us with a stimulating, challenging, and inspiring Gilder Lehrman seminar at the University of Kansas.

Being in the places of history and memory encourages me to keep learning and exploring, to grow and accompany my students in their study of History...

"The more you know, the more you know you don't know".
I go to these programs because I know enough about something to want to learn more. You can do this through reading and course work, but to be guided through the experience by either recognized experts in the field or people actually involved in the events that transpired is just an incredible opportunity. To be able to do that at the actual site of the events is absolutely priceless.
The single best thing I will bring back to my classes was a better appreciation for the 5 distinctly different cases collectively known as Brown. It will reinforce my effort to make students confront the idea that there are often multiple narratives in regard to the history usually written according to the master narrative in their textbooks.
A second insight I'll take back to my classes is a greater appreciation of the cost and unintended consequences involved in what is generally thought to be a giant step forward in making America the nation we would like to be. While we often speak of the physical and financial cost to the people challenging the status quo in this case. I, for one, didn't really think this through to the point of realizing the cost in term of lost jobs for a considerable number of black teachers and also the loss of a certain number of high quality black schools that were a source of pride to many in various black communities.

Excellent visual piece that explores prejudice on "all fronts." Students respond positively to the experience. Bill Cosby on "Prejudice."

I believe the most important thing I will take away from this seminar is the understanding that, even though we have come a long way with race relations in our country, there is still a long way to go. Living in a small rural town in the state of Kansas with a very small minority population, I do not see the race problem that my fellow educators do in the large metropolitan areas of our country. I feel that the past week has made me a better teacher, but more importantly, I feel it has made me a better person.

Thank you to Dr. Kelly Woestman, Dr. Shawn Leigh Alexander and Gilder Lehrman for a great week of learning.

I am walking away from this seminar with a collection of images, impressions, documents and ideas that will make my classroom a richer learning experience for my students. I can give them what has been given to me this week as an educator. I have experienced "authentic" learning at it's very best. I was here where it happened...I saw, researched, discussed, and shared with fellow educators a period of profound history. These are the numerous treasures that are now a part of my teaching.

I came into this week with a pretty good understanding of the African American Civil Rights Movement, & came away from this seminar understanding that what I knew only covered the surface. I appreciate Gilder-Lherman gave me th opportunity to get a more detailed background in the Civil Rights movement. I learned how important the NAACP was in furthering Civil Rights. I learned that they had a proven strategy, of direct action backed by legal action, stuck to that strategy & helped to bring about significant change in American society. I received significant documents & information that I can carry back to my school, which I plan to share with my colleagues, on the impact of the civil rights movement.I primarily teach using powerpoint presentations, of which I have a what I thought was a decent presentation on the civil rights movement. That presentation will be enhanced by not only additional information, but with the use of documents to back up the additional information. I intend to use some of the documents, as well as some of the texts in preparing a DBQ Essay for my AP US History classes. I also plan on using some of the documents as reading and analyzing lessons with my regular history classes. I also plan on extending the information that I have obtained to include lessons on the Civil rights under Presidents Kennedy & Johnson.


Civil Rights Acts and the Three Branches of Government

Currently, I'm sketching out a plan to ask students to examine the three branches of government by looking at the passage and constitutionality of three civil rights acts. They will be able to use extensive primary source documentation to delve into how and why decisions are made. We can spend an extensive amount of time on the topic because they will be learning about so many different parts of the government - legislation, president's role, Speaker of the House, filibuster, judicial review, etc. I'm afraid I don't have much more than that right now, but if anyone is interested, I'd be happy to share the unit when I get it ready.

Sitting in a Monroe School classroom, as Drs. Lang and Alexander provided the background and insight to the Brown case, was amazing. They both engage and challenge the learner.

The opportunity to visit the Eisenhower Library allowed teachers the unique opportunity to explore primary documents from the Eisenhower Administration and find new and creative ways to implement them within a classroom setting. By collaborating with a group of distinguished educators, I was able to better utilize these documents.

Excellent essay on public education and how it is essential to democratic values and keeping our country strong.

Thanks to John and Shirley for sharing their research about the struggle and changes to urban education. It was very insightful with the changes before Brown and after Brown (1940-1980). I have often wondered why the urban schools are such a challenge but to hear that they actually were top notch schools in the 1940's and 1950's was surprising! I would be interested in using some visual graphs and data for students to compare and contrast these changes.

If you have never used it (or even if you had!) the Stanford History Education Group has an amazing website with resources and document based lessons for every era in US History.

The lessons and documents are challenging but have also been differentiated so that all learners can access. Definitely check them out at the link below.

This seminar was my first Gilder Lehrman seminar and combined with the TAH group which Gilder has helped I have a better base of knowledge to teach from. This seminar went far beyond what I was expecting and the presenters made it easy for everybody to learn whatever level of knowledge you had in this are. Shawn Alexander was the most knowledgeable person I have ever heard speak on the subject and went out of his way to answer ever question that could have been asked. He was easy to talk with and had not a single moment to rest because everybody continually had questions. The group as a whole all fit together well and it seemed we were always talking education or history every moment of the day and night. I think we all learned numerous things from each other to try when we get back home and have even came up with new ideas that none of us have tried to experiment with.

Great trip and cant wait to go on the next one!

Made me feel like a real historian.
This was my first opportunity to delve into this amount of primary sources to this level.
Having read about the White Citizens Councils, it was fascinating to see a fund raising letter from that period seeking resources to fight integration in an effort to preserve life as southern whites had known and enjoyed it.
While we may have expected to see a document like that, some of the material from the FBI was, if not surprising, certainly disappointing. Memos linking the Till case with the 'International Communist Experience' seemed to show Hoover and his agency to be obsessed in linking the two. It is perhaps not surprising that Communists would use this both here and overseas to publicize racial injustice in a nation that supposedly prides itself on "equal justice under law". However, the fact that the FBI seemed more concerned with the possible duping of the black community by un-American elements than somehow achieving justice in this case does not speak well the way they conceptualize their mission.

The teachers teach "the facts," but, as with my class, "the facts" are never the most important. Here are some things that are more important:

1. Rededicating myself to making integration work. I surely don't want to be known as a white teacher who reinforced black academic inferiority or any white kid's sense of superiority. And, I must try to make the social aspects of integration work too.

2. Seeing the dedication of the professors, the passion, the hard work, the curiosity and the technique is very valuable and worthy of emulation.

3. Being a student: Opening up those synapses is a good thing. Experiencing what it's like to be bored in class, to be praised, to be ignored. All these things happen to my students; it's good for me to experience them, too.

4. Contacts: The Park Rangers, in particular, will prove to be enormously helpful to me.

5. Friends: I'm 57 and I can still solve the mystery of making friends. I look forward to discussing this subject with my students.

6. Understanding the whole field: seeing historian's at work- from using primary sources, to checking theories, to figuring out how to categorize information are all valuable experiences for me. Some people think organizations like the NEH are a waste of taxpayer funds, but I "get it."
Funding and respecting the work of historians is the mark of an advanced civilization.

7. Recharging my battery. It's summer. It's easy to get into the rhythm of summer. Now, and after all my G.L. workshops, I find myself "rearing to go."

I would have to say today's lecture on the Civil Rights lecture. The controversial video's of Richard Pryor, and Dave Chappells's take on racism. The information we receieved on the various groups and individuals who help shape the movement. Most of these sources were new to me and I will use everything presented. I'm interested in this period especially because this is my generation. Shawn vast knowledge and his willingness to to share any and all primary sources and where to find them is very helpful. Clarence's insight on the movement and his willingness to share info and power-point makes it easy to gather the sources less tedious. Shawn introduced leaders of various black organizations that I had forgotten. I was impressed that he personally knew a vast number of the leaders, or knew someone who did. It made this time spent on civil rights that much meaning-full. There is just to much information over load in this seminar that I'm sorry to have to leave. This week is over and it just seems like we just started. Can't forget the contributions of Kelly the tons of web-sites that she provided are a God-send. Her work and dedication to helping us all relax and enjoy this time at Kansas University. I will share this knowledge with students and colleagues. My personal library on civil rights is sure to grow because of the books that were shared on this subject by all the presenters. I had a chance to take some pictures take I will post when I return home. Thanks for everything

Each year I take my Junior Honors American History & Senior Honors American Government classes from Wellington, Kansas to Brown v. Board site in Topeka, KS. But after this trip and seminar I have much more information to help explain the truth about the Brown case of 1954. Also my creditability with my students and their parents is enhanced when I can say I learned this information from Leota Brown Montgomery the mother of Linda Brown and from Dr. Shawn Leigh Alexander professor at the University of Kansas. I believe that this seminar is enhanced by being located here in Kansas.

Thanks to Gilder Lehrman!

The sites and resources under the control of the National Park Service are always terrific. The Monroe School/Brown v. Board site was no exception. During the week we discussed the equalization/desegregation controversy. Going to the school helped me to visualize what this meant. Monroe is a beautiful building. I could imagine all the learning that went on there with the assistance of the outstanding Black teachers we have heard so much about. I can better understand what Mrs. Brown-Montgomery meant when she said it was a terrific school. Since so many people know the name of the case, having a site to give it "place" is very important. I'm glad I had the chance to visit.

The best thing about seminars is the time sharing with teachers and faculty. The presentations and lectures are very good. The time at night, meals and on the bus is when the decisions take on another life. The faculty and teachers are all intelligent and have so much to offer.

It was fascinating to "sit" with history at the Eisenhower archives! One, certainly, is able to get a better sense of the politics that come into play, with major events of U.S. History, especially while reading many of the original documents. I was riveted while reading some of the correspondence between President Eisenhower and the NAACP.

I was emotionally impacted by physically being in the Monroe School in Topeka, Kansas where a society changing Supreme Court Case would come into being. The site visit, coupled with the stimulating lecture and discussion facilitated by Dr. Clarence Lang, provided me with a cache of interpretations and facts about a period of history that defines us as a people.

After my week with all of you I wanted to include this link to make sure you know about the National History Teacher of the Year Program that Gilder-Lehrman sponsors. All of you would be deserving of this award. Just being nominated is an experience because of the process of applying and what you have to think about that you do in the classroom. Check it out at

The trip to the Brown v Bd Site yesterday was amazing. I feel better about teaching the subject matter, especially if I get the opportunity to visit the historic sites that I am teaching about. I was amazed at how beautiful the Munroe School was, I expected to pull up to a battered, worn out building. Through the lectures of the previous day I was enlightened to the fact that the Brown decision was not always about the inferiority of black schools, but how separate schools kept African Americans from getting the same opportunities as white children.e the photographs that I took at the Brown site of the 2 schools in South Carolina& show them to my students so they can see the contrast of schools is some parts of the country. Then I will show them the pics that I took at the site of the Munroe school, while emphasizing that it was not always about school site. I got some very good information from Professors Shirley Hill & John Rury on how integration affected the growth of black education in the country, especially with the growth of the African American middle class & African Americans attending college.

At our site (, we deal with Brown every single day. I came here familiar with the case, the aftermath, the effect as it pertained to LR, but now have a different perspective as to the school of the case's namesake. Many people who visit our site want to come to the school - the building, the brick and mortar, the grass, the steps, the street - to experience a place where significant change happened. This experience, as well as the exhibits inside the Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site, should be felt by students or whomever in conjunction with primary source documents, video, etc. to drive home the singular importance of this case. Bring into the discussion the cases pre-Brown and the momentum gained through litigious means by the NAACP leading up to Brown, but then remind them of the events in 1849 Boston. Change came a century later in a courtroom, but what change has come in the classroom in the last half century? Food for discussion will be abundant...

Herblock's cartoons at the Library of Congress:

Herblock is a great political cartoonist whose works can be used for all studies of the 20th Century...

His Civil Rights related cartoons are powerful...

There have been so many interesting things happen this week but if I had to pick a single thing it would have to be getting to meet and hear from Leota Brown Montgomery. Getting to hear the story her and her children directly was priceless. Since Brown v. board of ed. was direcly related to these Browns its hard to refute what they had to say. What better way is there to teach than getting your information than getting it directly from the source

I'm not sure how to explain the "most valuable" thing I learned this week. There was so much I didn't know that it is hard to narrow it down. I guess if I have to pick one thing it would be the lack of knowledge I had on the equalization programs that were being instituted in many of the southern states. I though I had a pretty good idea of the Brown case and the impact but I was wrong. Like most of my experiences with classes/seminars, I am leaving Kansas with an intense desire to read more about this time period. I need to know this so I can more effectively teach my students about what I believe is one of the most important historical events of the 20th century.

Brown site:
My favorite part was probably the library. What a wonderful selection of resources, of which I bought four.

Seeing the building makes Linda Brown's life all the more real.

The opportunity for conferencing is a tremendous one and the fact that Angela, a park ranger from the site was part of my class, makes this all the more likely to happen.

It is difficult to identify the single most important thing I learned this week for two reasons. One is that I learned so much I am still processing the information. The other is that it was an amazing week, so I don't want to give the impression that one moment stood out above the others. I am excited to implement this into my entire year. As a government teacher, I believe I will be able to revisit the civil rights throughout the year by using it to frame various other units - foundations of government, federalism, separation of powers, etc.

As a lifetime resident of Kansas and a visitor to the Eisenhower site many times in Abilene this was the first time that I have had the opportunity to do research at the Eisenhower Library. I found some very interesting letters that President Eisenhower and the Reverend Billy Graham exchanged form March 22 – August 24, 1945. The subject of letters was how to work with southern religious leaders to implement integration. I feel this beginning research could lead to an article on how these men worked together to solve the racial issues of their time.
What a great day.

It is good to see so many teachers from across the country learning about my states favorite son in such a good light.

I can not express how impressed I was with the quality of the scholarship available to us this week in Kansas. Shaun Alexander was just outstanding. I just wanted to pick his brain the entire week we had with him. He put together a fantastic group of people to add to our experience. Shirley Hill and John Rury's presentations on their book The African American Struggle for Secondary Schooling was so interesting and pertinent to k-12 educators. They created a lot of discussion among the participants of the seminar that I found very helpful in dealing with a diverse high school population that I work with today. I especially appreciated the time that Clarence Lang spent with us, especially since he traveled with us to Topeka. He is a dynamic lecturer and again, like Shaun, so incredible knowledgeable about African American studies. The time we had at the dinner hall and on the bus provided me with the experience of talking with people who love the same thing I do, teaching. Thank you to all of the participants and to the scholars who worked with us this week in Lawrence, KS. Thank you also to Gilder-Lehrman, especially for making it possible for a seminar to be held in the middle of the country, instead of on one of the coasts.

This is my 2nd seminar with Gilder. The first at Yale was rather stressful but very good. This was very good and more relaxed. I especially enjoyed the Eisenhower Museum and Archive Experience at the Eisenhower Library. The archivist were very helpful and easy to work with. They put out boxed of original documents that matched the seminar topic. My favorite experience was of course the talk by the Brown's. The Brown Monroe museum was extremely well done. The film was very professional and the exhibits made you think. It is important that this program be done in this area. I did miss not going the Truman museum.

For me the most important theme of this week's seminar on Presidential Politics, Civil Rights and the Road to Brown is that it encompasses a broader time span and a plythera of court cases that culminated in the Brown ruling.
Another theme that I will walk away with from this week's seminar is that the implementation of the Brown ruling had divisive effects.This week's seminar broadened my prospective on the polarizing effects of the court's ruling throughout our country.
I plan to teach my unit on the Civil Rights in quite a different approach than what I have done in the past.

I hate to keep beating a dead horse with this -- BUT -- I still think that there is no substitute for 'being there'. Getting to the Monroe school made it clear how misguided I had been in the way I went about teaching Brown.
This was made abundantly clear as you walked through the door. On the two walls was a stark contrast between different attitudes different states and communities had in regard to the 'separate but equal' schools.
I was completely in the dark as to the degree of equality provided by Topeka to the students of the city within the confines of the Plessey ruling. 'Being there' allowed us to see first hand the quality and integrity of the building and then put that up against the incredible disparity between the treatment of White and Black students in the Clarendon, SC example. 'Being there' corroborated what had been said the day before by members of the Brown family who had attended the school.
Following that up was the presentation comparing and contrasting the 5 different cases collectively decided as Brown. Knowing a fair amount concerning the Prince Edward Co, VA case, this should now allow for a much more sophisticated discussion of the various issues involved in the case and emphasize how different conditions were depending on time and place.

It was great to get to go to the Eisenhower library and meseum. Im glad it was close enough that we had time to go with enough time to do research as well as we do not have anything like this remotely close enought to use in person where I live.

Prior to this seminar I had no idea there was a Brown v Board National Park. And even when I learned of it--yea, even after hearing Ms. Brown Henderson talk about it in detail--I was skeptical. How interesting, I asked myself, could a building about a court case be?

Well, I stand humbled and awed. Mostly awed. It was fantastic! For those who have never seen or been near a "colored only" school--and I imagine that would be 99% of the US populace--just walking into the building was walking into history. Then there were the thematic exhibits, the easy-to-follow timelines in each, the photographs. "Wow!" would be an understatement.

Some years ago I "discovered" the Vicksburg MS Civil War battlefield because I needed a break from driving on Interstate 20. It opened a whole new interest in me to learn about the Civil War. I can see how anyone needing a break from the tedium of Interstate 70 can similarly have their eyes and minds opened by the Brown v Board National park site.


I really enjoyed our day at the Eisenhower Archives and Museum. The birthplace is unique in that 100% of what is contained in the home is original to the family since the President's mother lived there her entire life (long after her son's fame was well-established). Archives are always a bit scary to outsiders as each has a slightly different set of rules, but the Staff was welcoming and happy to assist "amateurs". Having a change to view documents that the White House Staff actually utilized was a rare experience. It was fun to go through letters written by Americans to the President while the crisis at Central High School was occurring. The experience made me feel "closer to history".

Wonderful experience as an educator actually being in the archives of President Eisenhower. I learned a great deal about the archive process and President Eisenhower as a man,a general, a president and a civil rights force of power. Working in the archives and finding primary source documents that can be used in my classroom to bring this era to life was inspiring. This was an experience that could only happen at the presidential library in Kansas.

I had a great time at Monroe school in Topeka thursday. It was a uneque experience to walk the halls of a school that was once segregated especially since it was connected to the Brown case. The video was great but the room surrounded with videos all going at the same time in almost actual size was definately moving. Im glad that the museum didnt hold anything back and showed things like they actually were.