Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Expansion Act
STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC LANDS, CONCERNING H.R. 920, TO AMEND THE ACT ENTITLED “ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE IN THE STATE OF KANSAS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES” TO PROVIDE FOR INCLUSION OF ADDITIONAL RELATED SITES IN THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
APRIL 21, 2021
Chairman Neguse, Ranking Member Fulcher, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior's (Department) views on H.R. 920, a bill to amend the Act entitled “Act to provide for the establishment of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in the State of Kansas, and for other purposes” to provide for inclusion of additional related sites in the National Park System, and for other purposes.
The Department supports efforts to broaden public understanding of the events that led to the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education (Brown). The Court’s finding that racially segregated schools were unconstitutional was unquestionably a pivotal event in our nation’s civil rights struggle.
H.R. 920 would expand the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas by authorizing the addition of two school sites located in South Carolina to the park unit upon their acquisition by the National Park Service (NPS). It would also designate sites in Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Virginia as affiliated areas of the National Park System. The sites included in H.R. 920 are all associated with the four additional court cases that were consolidated into the Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court case. The affiliated areas would not be managed by the NPS, but they would be required to be managed in accordance with any law generally applicable to units of the National Park System. The affiliated areas would be eligible for NPS technical and financial assistance. The NPS would be required to prepare general management plans for the proposed sites in South Carolina—Summerton High School and Scott’s Branch High School in Clarendon County—and for the proposed affiliated areas.
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site was established in Topeka, Kansas, on October 26, 1992, by Public Law 102-525. The park opened to the public in 2004 on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. The park’s Monroe Elementary School and Sumner Elementary School sites in Topeka, were designated National Historic Landmarks in 1987. This national historic site tells the story of all five of the U.S. Supreme Court lawsuits with a special emphasis on the one brought on behalf of Linda Brown, an African American child who was denied the right to go to a public school near her home because it was for white students only. As the lawsuit that was the lead name for the five cases that were combined in the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Brown case became the most well-known of these cases.
However, the four other cases, and the sites associated with those cases, also tell compelling stories about the struggle to end school segregation:
We also recommend redesignating Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site as Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park, to reflect the park’s larger geographic scope. We would be happy to work with the sponsor and the Committee on amendments.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide this statement for the record.