Magazine Feature

Toolkit for "Browder v. Gayle"

Although the Montgomery Bus Boycott was successful in galvanizing the civil rights movement and promoting awareness of the injustice of segregated busing, Browder v. Gayle provided the legal basis for ending transportation segregation in Alabama. Despite its importance, the Browder v. Gayle case remains relatively untaught civil rights history. 


Most teachers who teach the Montgomery Bus Boycott focus on the actions of Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the boycotters. Few teach about Browder v. Gayle, the case that legally ended transportation segregation in Alabama. But the story of this case and its plaintiffs gives students a fuller and more nuanced understanding of the civil rights movement. With this toolkit for "Browder v. Gayle," students delve into important questions about the mechanics of change, the impact of historical mythology and the reductionism that can occur when we write and study history.  


Essential Questions

  1. What factors brought about the end of segregated transportation?
  2. What role did the Supreme Court play in ending Jim Crow and in the broader movement?
  3. What stories get left out of the dominant narratives of the civil rights movement and why?



  1. Think about how you teach the Montgomery Bus Boycott. If you teach Browder v. Gayle, think about how you teach that case, too.
  2. Download the Civil Rights Done Right – Browder v. Gayle sample.
  3. Review the worksheets that are already filled out with information about the Browder v. Gayle case.
  4. Complete the remainder of the Civil Rights Done Right process, and decide how you will use the feature story, the sample and the recommended resources to revise your lesson and teach a fuller, more robust version of this event.
  5. Alternately, start with a blank version of Civil Rights Done Right, and fill in the information yourself based on the feature story and on your independent research. Then use the Civil Rights Done Right – Browder v. Gayle sample to fill in the gaps.