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COLLEGE RECEIVES GRANT FROM THE MARYLAND HUMANITIES COUNCIL TO STUDY THE BROWN DECISION


by Robin Hailstorks, Chair/Professor, Psychology

"In Celebration of Brown" is the theme of a yearlong series of activities and events planned throughout Prince George’s County to commemorate the Brown decision and to analyze the impact of that decision on county residents. These activities and events, planned by a group of community leaders who represent a broad cross-section of county employees and residents, will commence February 2004 and end in December 2004. Activities planned for spring 2004 include the use of the curriculum guide for academic disciplines, a panel discussion, a lecture series, the Mini-Book Bridge Project, student essay contests/awards program, a film series, a theatrical performance, student journaling, the re-enactment of the argument before the Supreme Court, and videotaping of all events associated with the celebration. These events are free of charge and open to the public. During fall 2004, a brochure highlighting each of the events and a videotape capturing the essence of these activities will be completed. A White Paper will also be produced, and will include a policy analysis and recommendations for future planning.

In keeping with the thrust of the Maryland Humanities Council’s call for collaborative partnerships to commemorate the Brown decision, the community leaders have formed a committee that includes academicians, scholars, attorneys, community leaders, and residents. Prince George’s Community College has served as the hub for this partnership. The college will continue to serve as the hub for this project during the coming academic year. The collaborative partners have invited Lenneal Henderson to serve as their Lead Scholar for this important initiative. Dr. Henderson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the discussion, and will assist the partnership in developing the program and in framing researchable questions regarding the Brown decision. He will also assist the partnership in conducting the policy analysis and in writing the White Paper.

The overall objective of "In Celebration of Brown" is to sponsor a series of lectures and activities that 1) educates the public about the decision, and 2) explains how the Brown decision transformed the lives of Prince George’s County residents. In order to achieve this overall objective, a number of scholars have been invited to participate in this project to articulate both the local, regional, and national implications of the Brown decision.

This project was conceived to bring together the citizens of Prince George’s County to engage in a public forum about an event that changed the course of history for this nation and this county. The collaborative partners envision several measurable outcomes for this project. The most significant outcome will be the degree to which these activities informed and engaged the citizens of Prince George’s County. This impact will be measured and described in both qualitative and quantitative terms. This impact will be measured in the classroom and in the public forums that this project has identified as vehicles for public discourse (i.e., panel discussions, lecture series, film festival, essay contest, mock trial, and personal histories).

The collaborative partners also envision several tangible products that will culminate from the activities and events planned for spring 2004. The first product is a videotape that captures each activity and event, and that provides a narrative explaining the significance of the activity. The videotape will be produced by Julian Gooding, coordinator for Video Production at Prince George’s Community College, and will be aired on our college’s cable channel. Several copies of the tape will be made available to the public. The second product is a brochure to accompany the videotape, which will highlight the events, the program participants, and the measurable outcomes (e.g., how many persons were engaged in the activity and what was the level of the impact). The Office of Planning and Institutional Research will develop the assessment tools for these activities and analyze the results of the findings for each event and activity.

The third product is a curriculum guide that includes activities and assignments for classroom use. This product will be developed by Prince George’s Community College faculty representing the disciplines of humanities, social sciences, and education. The curriculum guide will also include activities and resources that have been developed by the Smithsonian Institute and the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH). Janet Sims-Wood, Assistant Chief Librarian, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, will serve as the lead consultant for the curriculum guide.

The fourth product is a compendium of student papers generated as a result of the Prince George’s Community College Student Essay Contest. Students who place first, second, and third in the contest will be encouraged to present their papers at the ASALH 89th National Conference that will be held in Pittsburgh in September 2004. They will also be encouraged to present their papers at other professional meetings scheduled during the fall semester.

The fifth product is a White Paper that will be based on the historical impact of the Brown decision on Prince George’s County. The Prince George’s County Chapter of the NAACP has planned a lunch on our campus for the original plaintiffs in the desegregation case against the county schools, better known as the Vaughn et al v. Prince George’s County Public Schools. This paper will include the personal statements of these plaintiffs; a policy analysis based on lectures and findings of imminent scholars, and recommendations from the collaborative partners for future planning. Dr. Henderson is the chief consultant for this product. He will guide the collaborative partners in developing this seminal product. James Anderson, distinguished scholar in educational policy analysis, will spend a day on our campus in April 2004, meeting with students and presenting a lecture on the educational policy implications of the Brown decision. The White Paper will also be based on presentations given by invited speakers and scholars who are part of our lecture series and panel discussions scheduled for spring 2004.

These products will be produced between June and December 2004. The collaborative partners will be responsible for producing high quality products that will be made available to the public after December 1, 2004. Much of the work for producing the videotape and the accompanying brochure will take place during the summer months. The White Paper will be drafted over the summer months and completed during the fall semester.

This project will afford Prince George’s County residents an opportunity to revisit the Brown decision and to explore how this decision changed the lives of county residents then and now. After learning about the historical significance of Brown, county residents will be asked to consider how life would have been without Brown, and how Brown changed the social, economic, and political landscape of the county. Current county residents will be asked to consider future challenges based on the aftermath of this decision (e.g., re-segregation).

This collaborative partnership affords the community a rare opportunity to see the impact of the Brown decision from a variety of perspectives (i.e., historical, educational, social, political, and legal) and to work together to develop a set of recommendations for social change in the county. The collaborative partners for this project are:

Prince George’s Community College
Office of the Prince George’s County Executive
J. Franklin Bourne Law Association
Prince George’s County Bar Association
Prince George’s County Public Schools
Prince George’s County Public Library
NAACP – Prince George’s County Chapter
University of Maryland, School of Law
University of Baltimore
Howard University

The following represents the activities currently planned for this academic year:

Lead Scholar for the Brown Initiative: Lenneal Henderson, Distinguished Professor of Government and Public Administration; Senior Fellow, Schaefer Center for Public Policy – University of Baltimore. Dr. Henderson is also a Board Member of the Maryland Humanities Council.

Spring Semester Mini-Book Bridge Project: "A Cross Bourne," by Karen Gooden (Board of Trustee Member) – coordinated by Mary Brown

February 11, 2004 –Lenneal Henderson, University of Baltimore, Sherrilyn Ifill, Associate Professor of the University of Maryland School of Law, and Alvin Thornton, Associate Provost, Howard University – coordinated by Melinda Frederick and Nelson Kofie

February 24, 2004 – Janet Sims-Wood: "Cafe for the Mind" – coordinated by Beverly Reed

February 2004 – Student Essay Contest – coordinated by Lisa Byrd, College Life Services

March 2004 – Film Series focused on Brown Case – coordinated by Lynda Logan, Learning Resource Staff, and College Life Services

March 2004 – Metropolitan Ebony Theater Production – coordinated by Cheryl Collins

April 2004 –James Anderson, University of Illinois – coordinated by Robin Hailstorks

April/May 2004 – Re-enactment of argument before the Supreme Court in Upper Marlboro in the Courthouse – coordinated by Roger Thomas, Angela Alsobrooks, Lynda Logan, and Charlene Dukes

May 17, 2004 – Joint program celebrating PGCPS/PGCC essay contest winners in collaboration with NAACP – coordinated by June White Dillard and Charlene Dukes

May 17, 2004 – Possible press conference with statewide committee offering Blue Ribbon Report on Brown 50 Years Later – coordinated by Angela Alsobrooks

January 2004 – Creation of Web links to information on the Brown Case – coordinated by Imogene Zachery

January 2004 – Development of Reading List for classes – coordinated by John Bartles

February-May 2004 – Videotaping of all Brown Activities – coordinated by Julian Gooding

The college’s mission is to meet the educational, employment, and enrichment needs of the community it serves through high quality programs for cultural enhancement and continuing education. This project is an educational and cultural enrichment program conceived by community leaders to inform the local residents about the Brown decision and to engage the local residents in discussions regarding Brown. The project will assist the college in achieving its mission and several of its strategic goals and objectives.

 

The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 19, No. 2

Spring 2004