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by Melinda J. Frederick, Honors Coordinator and Associate Professor of Political Science

On Wednesday, February 11, 2004, nearly 400 Prince George's Community College faculty, students, staff, administrators, and community members attended a panel discussion titled "Brown versus Board of Education, Revisited" in Rennie Forum.

The panel was composed of legal and academic experts on constitutional law, civil rights, and educational reform, and included  Lenneal Henderson, professor from the University of Baltimore,  Sherrilyn Ifill, professor from the University of Maryland School of Law, and Alvin Thornton, associate provost at Howard University. Mary Brown, from the English Department and director of the Book Bridge Project, served as Moderator of the discussion.
Reading left to right: Charlene Dukes-Vice President for Student Services, Mary Brown-Director of the Book Bridge Project, Alvin Thornton-Associate Provost at Howard University, Sherrilyn Ifill-Professor from University of Maryland School of Law, Lenneal Henderson-Professor from University of Baltimore
The panel was the kick-off event for what will be a yearlong series of activities and events at the college commemorating the 50th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision, Brown versus Board of Education, which overturned the legal segregation of minorities in public education in the United States. Professor Henderson focused on the historical, social, and political environment within which racial segregation of public schools was created. Finally, Professor Thornton highlighted the relevance of Brown to public education in the state of Maryland today, and the challenges that remain for each of us to realize the intent of the Supreme Court decision enacted 50 years ago.

Alvin Thornton
Associate Provost at Howard University

Sherrilyn Ifill
Professor from University of Maryland School of Law

The project, titled "In Celebration of Brown," is funded by a grant to the college by the Maryland Humanities Council, in addition to funds provided by the Instruction Office and the Student Services Office. The Project Directors are Charlene Dukes, Robin Hailstorks, and Lynda Logan. Lenneal Henderson will serve as Lead Scholar and Janet Sims-Wood will serve as Lead Consultant on the Project. "In Celebration of Brown" brings together collaborative partners inside and outside of the college community, including institutions of higher education, the Prince George's County Public Schools and Library system, the legal community, and the Prince George's County chapter of the NAACP.

Some of the activities include a panel discussion; the development of an Annotated Bibliography and Classroom Resource Guide for teachers; the creation of a Web site that is linked to the college's home page; a Mini-Book Bridge project; a lecture series; a student essay competition; a film series; a theatrical performance by the Metropolitan Ebony Theatre Production; student journal writing; oral histories; a re-enactment of the argument before the Supreme Court; and a "Recognition Dinner" in May to honor some of the surviving litigants in the Maryland desegregation case Vaughns et al versus Prince George's County Public Schools. All events, except the Recognition dinner, are free and open to the public. The events will be videotaped for classroom use, and they will also be aired on the campus television station.

In the fall, the project will culminate in the preparation of a White Paper, which will include a policy analysis and recommendations for future planning. Dr. Henderson will assist us in preparing the White Paper, and he is also available to lecture in several classes this semester. Faculty are encouraged to fully participate in the activities and are welcome to lend their support at the bi-weekly meetings of the Brown 50th Anniversary Planning Committee held on Friday afternoons in Kent Hall. Further questions can be directed to any of the three Project Directors, Drs. Dukes, Hailstorks, or Logan.

Editorís Note: For additional details and other "Brown" events, see the article, "College Receives Grant from the Maryland Humanities Council to Study the Brown Decision."


The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 19, No. 2

Spring 2004