November 30, 2004

Brown vs. Board of Education Key figures from landmark case to speak at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Two key figures in one of the nation's most significant legal cases - the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case that ended segregation in the nation's public schools - will offer their perspectives during a lecture Thursday, Dec. 2, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Cheryl Brown Henderson and John A. Stokes will speak at 5 p.m. in the McLeod Theater, in SIUC's Communications Building. The 2004 Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Lecture, "Separate But Equal," is free and open to the public.


Media Advisory

Reporters and still photographers are welcome to cover the lecture. The contract with Cheryl Brown Henderson and John Stokes' management prohibits videotaping of the lecture, as well as questions before, during or after the event. For more information, contact Michael P. Ruiz, the SIUC law school director of admissions, media and community affairs at 618/453-8858.


Cheryl Brown Henderson is executive director of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research. She is the youngest of three children of the late Rev. Oliver L. Brown, for whom the case is named. Stokes helped organize and lead a student strike at the all-black Moton High School in Farmville, Va., in 1951. The resulting case became part of Brown vs. Board of Education, which the U.S. Supreme Court heard in December 1952.

The Brown case, which included several other families in Topeka, Kan., actually was a consolidation of similar cases from Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware and Washington, D.C. The court's decision, announced May 17, 1954, overturned its own ruling from 58 years earlier that provided for a separate-but-equal doctrine.

The appearance by Cheryl Brown Henderson and Stokes "is a historic event for the School of Law," said Dean Peter C. Alexander.

"Together they will be sharing their stories and the perspectives on this very important Supreme Court decision," he said. "I think it is particularly appropriate to have the Lesar Lecture focus on Brown vs. Board of Education in 2004, the 50th anniversary of the decision."

Alexander believes the Brown decision remains relevant today. The lecture is a "great opportunity to learn about our past and to participate in a discussion that hopefully will shape our future."

Cheryl Brown Henderson has been a grade school teacher, university guest lecturer, a school guidance counselor and state educational administrator. She, her two sisters, and their mother continue to discuss the significance and legacy of the decision.

Stokes retired in 1994 after serving as a teacher and principal in the Baltimore, Md., school system. Since then, he has been an adjunct professor at Morgan State and Baltimore City Community College.

Cheryl Brown Henderson and Stokes appear through DPK and Associates, Inc.

The Hiram H. Lesar Lecture Series, established in 1992, honors the founding dean of the SIUC law school.

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.