In 2021, the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site was added to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. The U.S. Civil Rights Trail highlights more than 100 locations across 15 states, mainly in the South and Midwest. The trail traces the decades-long journey — beginning in the mid-20th century — that resulted in tragedy and triumph and culminated in landmark federal civil rights legislation.
Kansas’ capital city has repeatedly found itself at the crossroads to freedom, and other local sites represent this history of struggle for equality and justice:
- After visiting the Brown v. Board site, be sure to check out the Historic Ritchie House, 1116 S.E. Madison St. The Ritchie House — built by abolitionists John and Mary Jane Ritchie — was a stop along the Underground Railroad and is considered to be Topeka’s oldest home.
- Explore the Mamie Williams House, 1503 S.E. Quincy St., which was home to the acclaimed Topeka educator. Williams served Topeka Public Schools for 30 years, including as principal of Monroe School. She was appointed to the Kansas Commission on the Status of Women in 1965 and was a delegate to the 1971 White House Conference on Aging.
- Also visit Constitution Hall, 429 S. Kansas Ave., which is undergoing a phased restoration. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its historical significance, Constitution Hall is where delegates from across the Kansas territory met in 1855 to ban slavery in what would become the state’s first constitution. This was a groundbreaking move at the time and a reflection of the then-contentious debate over slavery, which roiled a budding nation. In its nomination for National Register status, Constitution Hall was described as “significant in the national context of abolition, in the areas of politics and government, transportation, and Black ethnic heritage of the Underground Railroad.”