A Tour of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Park 

The former site of Monroe Elementary School is now a national park.

Do you know what a national park is? A national park is land set aside to be preserved [protected or kept as it is]. Some land is preserved because of its natural beauty, like Yosemite National Park. Other places are preserved because they made an impact on history. One such place is Brown v. Board of Education National Historical Park.  

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education court decision. Before this decision, some schools were segregated [people separated based on their race]. Many Black and White students attended different schools. The Supreme Court decided that segregated schools were unequal. Black students were not receiving the same education as White students. This decision changed the country. 

One of these segregated schools was Monroe Elementary School. This school is in Topeka, Kansas. On May 4, 1987, the building became a National Historic Landmark. This means that the building played an important role in history. The title of National Historic Landmark protects the building from being torn down. Today, it is no longer a school. It is a national park! 

There is a lot for visitors to do at the park. You can visit a classroom that looks exactly like it did in 1954. You can explore exhibits about what led to the court decision and what happened after. There is also a theater where visitors can watch an educational film.  

Outside the old school building, there are things to do, too. You can spend time in the school’s original playground. There are places for visitors to picnic. Nearby, you can also walk or bike along the Landon Nature Trail. Many schools take field trips to learn, discuss, and remember! 

What Do You Think? Why do you think people wanted to turn the Monroe Elementary School building into a national park? 

Photo Credit: Matt Gush/Alamy Stock Photo