The 60th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that ordered the desegregation of American schools will be the focus of the Nelson Mandela Legacy Event on Wednesday, Oct. 1, in the University Student Union (USU). The event will examine the question “Are We Still Fighting Separate and Unequal?”
Cheryl Brown-Henderson and her sister Linda, daughters of the suit’s namesake Oliver Brown, will be on hand for the 11 a.m. event to discuss the context of the Supreme Court decision and the current state of our educational system, according to event organizer Mary Anne Rose, director of Graduate Studies in the College of Education.
The second event will begin at 5 p.m. with a panel of educational experts, including College of Education Dean Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, who will discuss the case’s impact on 21st century schools. Also participating will be CSULB’s Executive Director of Educational Partnerships Linda Tiggs-Taylor, Advanced Studies in Education and Counseling’s Lindsay Perez-Huber and Educational Leadership’s Angela Locks, as well as Brown-Henderson, founding president of the Brown Foundation. The discussion will be preceded by a reception from 4-5 p.m. on the second floor of the University Student Union.
“One goal of this event is to discuss what the decision meant to the field of education,” said Rose. “What has happened during the last 60 years? And what hasn’t happened? This event will offer the chance to discuss such topics as school resegregation, the overrepresentation of minorities among student expulsions, as well as English learners and students with disabilities not receiving the same opportunities.”
A special guest will be Joseph White, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry at UC Irvine and “godfather” of Black Psychology. White was also a founding member of CSULB’s Educational Opportunity Program which is committed to providing access to historically low-income and first- generation college students.
The main goal of the event is to advance a critical understanding of Brown v. Board of Education, said event organizer and Student Life and Development Coordinator Maggie Munoz Perez.
“We want the event grounded in a balance between theory and practice,” said Perez, noting the audience will be mainly students. “We want them to learn about important issues and how to apply what they learn to their everyday lives.
“This event represents an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet extraordinary legends from American history,” she added. “It is a chance to interact with Linda and Cheryl Brown as well as Joseph White. Each one of these people owns a special piece of American history.”
Perez believes CSULB offers an excellent setting for a discussion of civil rights because its enrollment is so diverse.
“We have a lot of first-generation students who see themselves in the role of community activists,” she said. “We definitely want to empower our youth. We want to help them connect their present with America’s history.”
According to Rose, the series demonstrates CSULB’s commitment and gives the campus the forum and opportunity to examine the past and inform the present.
“Events like these show CSULB is not a collection of academic silos, but a university that looks critically at what happened in the past and what we want to happen in the future. Events like these give CSULB the forum and opportunity to do just that,” she said.
The CSULB Multicultural Center and the Office of Student Life and Development, in collaboration with the College of Education, the USU Program Council, the College of Liberal Arts, the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership, the university Honors Program Student Association and the College of Education Student Assembly are hosting the events.