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Shawn Leigh Alexander, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies,  Director of Langston Hughes Center, University of Kansas


In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson told the nation that it was time to “make good the promise of democracy.” He insisted it was not just African Americans, but “all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And,” he assured his listeners, “we shall overcome.” It is difficult for many Americans today to understand just how astounding it was to hear an American president, a southerner no less, say those words. The on-going struggle for civil rights in this country has been an intersection of direct-action protest, legal litigation, and government intervention. This seminar will explore the road to Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the fight for social and political equality in the years before the modern Civil Rights Movement. Participants will learn about this struggle at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and at the Presidential Libraries of both Eisenhower and Truman, who were involved in the road to Brown. At all of the sites the participants will get a unique opportunity to gather both secondary and primary material to use in their classroom.


Readings are sent by the Institute to seminar participants. Readings may include selections from:

Geselbracht, Raymond H. The Civil Rights Legacy of Harry S. Truman. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2007.

Klinkner, Philip A., and Rogers M. Smith. The Unsteady March: The Rise and Decline of Racial Equality in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Martin, Waldo E., Jr. Brown v. Board of Education: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford Books, 1998.

Nichols, David Allen. A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.

Travel & Accommodations

The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, is approximately one hour from Kansas City International Airport (MCI). Lawrence is located on Interstate 70 just 30 minutes west of Kansas City and 20 minutes east of Topeka. For travel information and driving directions, please visit the University of Kansas website.

Workshop participants will be housed in an on-campus dormitory. Participants will be placed in private rooms, but may share bathroom facilities. The university provides bedding and towels only. Please note that participants should plan to bring alarm clocks, shampoo, hangers, irons, hair dryers, etc. Housekeeping services are provided throughout the week.

Participants should plan to bring laptops, as computer access on campus will be limited.


Meals will be served in a university cafeteria in space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Travel Reimbursement

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from the seminar. Each seminar participant will receive reimbursement of travel expenses up to $400. Please read our complete travel reimbursement policy before applying.

Graduate credit

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is proud to announce its agreement with Adams State University to offer three hours of graduate credit in American history to participating seminar teachers. For more information, please click here.

Course Reviews from Past Participants

“This was an amazing seminar! Our master teacher and lead presenter were engaging, informative, and inspirational. I cannot wait for school to start, so I can incorporate the seminar material, and other primary source documents, into my courses.”

“[This] seminar was excellent in every way, and I will read as many primary documents as I can to investigate what I learned last week about the complex motives and timing of all parties and people involved in the movement to desegregate the schools. The lead scholar, guest lecturers, master teacher and fellow participants were very interesting and engaging individuals and opened my mind to the great ambiguities of this crucial time in our national history. Thank you so much for organizing such revitalizing programs for teachers and for giving me the opportunity to learn so much in such a concentrated way.”

“This was one of the most amazing seminars that I have ever been to. Dr. Alexander completely challenged my thinking on a number of issues with regards to race and I can honestly say that he has already made me a better educator and thinker. The master teacher was a phenomenal leader and provided thoughtful and insightful strategies to help combat the Common Core and social studies literacy. The leadership of Dr. Alexander made this experience one of the best professional devlopment opportunities that I have ever been to.”


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

July 13th, 2014 5:00 PM   through   July 19th, 2014 9:00 AM
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS
United States

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Seminar Fee
Attending $50.00
Not Attending $0.00

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