Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy and Leadership

First Advisor

Pink, William

Second Advisor

Lowe, Robert

Third Advisor

Lorenz, Ellen


Black children achieved equal protection rights to attend K-12 public schools following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court holding in 1954. Scholars claimed Brown was a catalyst for admittance of disabled students as well. They believed tactics of the Black Civil Rights Movement influenced advocates of disabled students during the Civil Rights Era (1954-68). Scholars assumed race and minority status were key to obtaining due process legislation for the disabled in the 1970's.

An historical analysis of primary sources including court cases, Congressional testimony, biographical and personal statements of disabled individuals, and secondary sources of authors and journal writers revealed the Disability Rights Movement was influenced more by Supreme Court cases during 1948-50 than by the Brown decision. These cases emphasized individuality and the value of personal equal protection rights over race, group consciousness, and minority status.

The study reveals how revisiting the relationship between the pre-Brown activity around equal protection and the passage of due process rights legislation for the disabled changes the way scholars must now view special education.

Included in

Education Commons