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January 28, 2004

Brown sisters' lecture highlights Purdue's 'Brown at 50' series

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The sisters who were central figures in the U.S. Supreme Court case that paved the way for public school desegregation will speak at Purdue University as the highlight of "Brown at 50: Lessons in Progress," a yearlong series of events commemorating the case's 50th anniversary.

Linda Brown Thompson and
Cheryl Brown Henderson

Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson will give a talk titled "Fifty Years After Brown vs. the Board of Education" at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12, in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. The sisters will chronicle the history of their family's participation in the historic court battle that permanently changed American public education.

"The courage and determination with which the Brown family met and overcame the institutionalized prejudice of their day is an inspiration to anyone of any race and ethnic background," says Alysa Rollock, vice president of human relations, whose office is sponsoring or helping underwrite most of the "Brown at 50: Lessons in Progress" events. "The family took a great risk in standing up to the established laws, and by doing so made immense strides in establishing equality, not just for African-Americans but for everyone."

The Black Cultural Center is sponsoring the Brown sisters' lecture.

"Their personal account of the events that occurred 50 years ago, and the challenges they faced with their family, speak not only about their personal experiences but also for the millions of people of color and other minorities who have struggled for equality in this country and in the world," says Renee Thomas, director of the Black Cultural Center.

A reception will be held in the foyer outside Fowler Hall immediately following the talk, which is free and open to the public.

Also on Feb. 12, at 12:05 p.m. in Beering Hall, Room 2290, the Women's Resource Center will present a lunchtime program, "In Pursuit of Freedom and Equality: Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka," in preparation for the Brown sisters' presentation. The Women's Resource Office Book Club will be reading "Warriors Don't Cry: Searing Memoir of Battle to Integrate Little Rock" by Melba Pattillo Beals. Beals was one of the nine black students who in 1957 integrated Central High School in Little Rock.

The first event of "Brown at 50: Lessons in Progress" will be a symposium on Feb. 4-6 titled "Brown @ 50: Trials, Transitions and Transformations." The symposium, sponsored by the African-American Studies and Research Center, is being held in conjunction with Black History Month and is open to the public.

All symposium events are in Stewart Center, Room 218, unless otherwise noted. The symposium schedule is:

• Wednesday, Feb. 4. 10:30 a.m., "The First American Revolution on Race," Vernon Williams, Purdue professor of history; 1:30 p.m., "Litigation and Legitimacy: The Legacy of Black Women's Resistance," Rosalie Clawson, associate professor of political science.

• Thursday, Feb. 5. 9 a.m., "Don't Bring No Stuff, Won't Be No Stuff: Education, Criminal Justice and Sexuality – A Matrix of male Responsibility," Sloan Letman III, professor of criminal justice at Chicago State University, and Sloan Letman IV, doctoral candidate in African World Studies at Emory University; 11 a.m., "Counseling Multi-Cultural and Diverse Populations," Barry A. Schreier, staff psychologist at Purdue Counseling and Psychological Services, and Dorothy Simpson-Taylor, Diversity Resource Office director; noon, Stone Hall, Room B2, "The Road to Brown," one of three films in the center's "Brown Biography" Brown Bag Film Series; 4:30 p.m., "Affirmative Action and Higher Education: Race, Law and Education in a Post-Desegregation Era," Kevin Brown, law professor at Indiana University School of Law.

• Friday, Feb. 6. 9:30 a.m., Stewart Center, Room 214, "Law, Religion and Education: Explorations in the Power, Politics and Importance of an Activist Tradition," Cora Breckenridge, educator and first African-American trustee of Indiana University; Franklin Breckenridge, attorney and president of the Indiana chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Carol Jo Brown, first African-American member of the Lafayette School Corporation; 11:30 a.m., Stewart Center, Room 214, keynote address by Annette Gordon Reed, professor of law at New York University Law School, author of "Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy" and co-author of "Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir," presented with the support from the Office of the Vice President for Human Relations.

On Wednesday, Feb. 18, James T. Patterson, Ford Foundation Professor of History at Brown University, will give a lecture on Brown vs. the Board of Education for the 2004 History Forum, sponsored by Purdue's history department.

Patterson is the author of "Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy" (Oxford University Press, 2001), an analysis of the case in light of its impact. His other publications include "America in the Twentieth Century," "The Dread Disease: Cancer and Modern American Culture," "America's Struggle Against Poverty in the Twentieth Century," and "Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974," which won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished works in American history.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be at 7:30 p.m. in Fowler Hall, Stewart Center. An audience question-and-answer session will be held after his talk.

The Women's Resource Office is planning activities related to the Brown vs. Board of Education decision for Women's History Month in March, and the Diversity Resource Office is planning an activity in April. More information will be made available on those events.

On May 17, the actual anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, the Office of the Vice President for Human Relations will sponsor a commemorative event that is still in the planning stages.

The history department and the African American Studies and Resource Center are planning several events for September, which marks the 30th anniversary of African-American studies at Purdue University. Those events will be announced when they are finalized.

Writer: Reni Winter, (765) 496-3133,

Sources: Renee Thomas, (765) 494-5830,

Frank Lambert,, 494-5811

Alysa Rollock, (765) 494-5830,

Karen Hall, Women's Resource Office director, (765) 494-9879,

Dorothy Simpson-Taylor, Diversity Resource Office, (765) 494-7307,

Carolyn Johnson, African-American Studies, (765) 494-5680,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: Linda and Cheryl Brown will be available for advance telephone interviews. To make arrangements contact Reni Winter, (765) 496-3133, Television and video requests must be made in writing in advance of the Brown sisters' speaking engagement at Purdue on Feb. 12. For video and television requests, contact Jesica Webb, (765) 494-2079, Purdue's "Brown at 50: Lessons in Progress" Web site will be operational starting Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Related Web sites:
Brown at 50: Lessons in Progress (to be activated on Feb. 3)
African American Studies and Research Center
Brown vs. Board of Education/Brown Foundation

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