Brown v. Board: Sisters on realities of oppression

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Black history event addresses historical court case

Wolf Howard / News Editor Sisters: Cheryl Brown Henderson (left) and Linda Brown Thompson.

Wolf Howard / News Editor
Sisters: Cheryl Brown Henderson (left) and Linda Brown Thompson.

Saint Louis University addressed black history on Feb. 20 when sisters Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson spoke at the Center for Global Citizenship. The sisters discussed their father’s involvement in the historical Brown vs. Board of Education court case, which served as a lead case for desegregation of school systems.

The event, Remembering the Legacy: Brown v. Board – 60 Years Later, was part of a Civil Rights Symposium hosted by the SLU Law School and other organizations in honor of Black History Month. LaTanya Buck, director of the Cross Cultural Center, collaborated with the organizations to have the Brown sisters visit and enlighten the SLU community.

“I want students to have a respect for history and know that they stand on the shoulders of many who have struggled to make their present opportunities and environments possible,” stated Buck.

SLU had been desegregated 10 years prior to the landmark decision, but the case offered all Americans a chance for equal education and better lives.

In the presentation, Linda Brown recalled having to walk seven blocks to the bus stop in the harsh winter while there was a white school only a few blocks away. While she may not have been able to fully grasp the oppressive situation, her father recognized this unfair treatment. He became one of twelve other parents, led by the NAACP, that filed suit on behalf of their children. In 1954 the Supreme Court unanimously voted to end segregation of schools.

“The Brown decision expanded beyond education to have a broader impact on policy, law and society at-large. We all continue to benefit from the bravery of these families who simply wanted equity, access and opportunity for their children,” Buck said.

However, the Brown sisters argue that the fight is not over. Instead of segregation in schools, there is an “economic segregation” within the United States. The gap between the middle class and lower class is growing and those in the minority seem to be at the bottom. The Brown sisters spend a lot of their time teaching or giving presentations about the oppressions and racial issues that still affect the United States. They want audiences to understand that they are heirs of courageous acts committed by average families who were willing to take a stand. They say that it is not just enough to be present, but to be conscious of the wrongs in the world and step up.