October 05, 2004

'Teach-in' focuses on Brown vs. Board of Education

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - A teach-in and panel discussion exploring the significance and impact of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case 50 years ago will take place later this month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

"Brown vs. Board of Education: 50 Years Later," is set for Friday, Oct. 15, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Student Center Auditorium. The SIUC College of Education and Human Services is sponsoring the event, which looks back at the case involving the Topeka, Kan., school board and the high court's ruling that maintaining "separate but equal" school facilities for black and white children was unconstitutional.

Dean R. Keith Hillkirk hopes the teach-in provides faculty and students with a greater understanding of the issues and events leading up to the decision; a deeper understanding of intended and unintended consequences resulting from the decision; and "what continuing challenges do we face as a society in the areas of discrimination, fairness, equality and equal opportunity?"

The event is free and open to the public.

Law school Dean Peter C. Alexander will deliver the keynote address, and moderate the panel discussion featuring distinguished educators, judges and professionals.

The panelists are:

  • Arnette R. Hubbard, Cook County circuit judge. Hubbard is a 1957 graduate of SIUC's College of Education and Human Services in chemistry and mathematics. She graduated from the John Marshall Law School in 1969, and was the first woman elected president of the National Bar Association and the Cook County Bar Association.
  • William R. Norwood, a retired United Airlines captain, and the first African-American pilot the company hired. A former member of the SIU Board of Trustees, Norwood served in the U.S. Air Force for six years after graduating from SIUC with a degree in chemistry in 1959.
  • Kathryn A. Hytten, an associate professor in educational administration and higher education at SIUC. She is knowledgeable about issues of social justice, discrimination and equality.
  • Michael J. "Mike" Lawrence, director, Public Policy Institute, SIUC. He joined the Public Policy Institute in July 1997 as associate director and professor, and became interim director after the December death of Institute founder former U.S. Sen. Paul Simon. He became director on Oct. 1. Lawrence's extensive media background includes working as press secretary for former Gov. Jim Edgar; bureau chief in the Illinois State House for the Chicago Sun-Times and Lee Enterprises, and associate and managing editor of the Quad City Times.

Students will serve as hosts and assist with a multi-media display taken from the Library of Congress' digital archives through "An Adventure of the American Mind."

Looking at the various aspects of the Supreme Court decision "certainly allows persons in academe to reflect on social issues in the past, what they are today, and what higher education might offer in terms of alleviating or eliminating some of the continuing social problems that caused Brown vs. Board of Education," said Norma J. Ewing, associate dean for academic and student affairs.

She also believes the panel discussion will provide for open and honest dialogue.

"I think in terms of intellect, reflection and critical analysis, higher education is exactly the forum where those kinds of discussion can and should occur," she said.

The idea for a teach-in -- popularized in the 1960s -- is a fun concept for engaging "with our students in reflection and dialogue to learn about the history and the implications" from the decision, Hillkirk said. He anticipates the panel will also discuss affirmative action and the current No Child Left Behind program.

For more information, contact the College of Education and Human Services at 618/453-2415, or visit the teach-in Web site athttp://web.coehs.siu.edu/Info/Brown/index.htm.

Creating citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

The teach-in schedule is:

Friday, October 15

  • 9:30-10:30 a.m. -- Keynote address, Dean Peter C. Alexander, SIUC law school.
  • 11 a.m.-noon -- Film on Brown vs. Board of Education.
  • 1:15-2:45 p.m. -- Panel Discussion.