Rebecca Smith
KU Libraries

KU Libraries to host symposium honoring Brown v. Board 60th anniversary

Thu, 03/27/2014

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas Libraries will host “The Legacies & Unfinished Business of BvB, 2.0” in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board, the landmark Supreme Court ruling on racial segregation. The symposium, taking place April 11-12, includes an exhibition opening as well as a daylong event featuring distinguished law and civil rights experts. Both events are free and open to the public.

“The 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court deemed racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, marked a watershed moment in both civil rights history and Kansas history,” said Lorraine Haricombe, dean of KU Libraries. “In addition to establishing integration in public schools, the case was a significant step toward changing a broader dynamic of discrimination in the years and decades that followed. The ruling revolutionized the legal framework for race relations, extended the protection of equal rights to all and inspired oppressed peoples around the world to become advocates of freedom and equality. We are pleased to offer an opportunity for the campus and the community to come together to discuss this monumental decision and the influence it has still today.”

KU Libraries will host an opening of the exhibition “Lasting Impact: Brown v. the Board of Education” in the Watson Library Gallery, third floor west, at 5 p.m. Friday, April 11. The opening will be followed by a presentation at 6 p.m. by KU professors Shirley Hill, John Rury and Quinton Lucas examining the graduation gap for blacks since the ruling.

Sarah Goodwin Thiel, head of KU Libraries' Center for Community & Affiliate Engagement, explained that the “Lasting Impact” exhibition highlights the scholarship and the many resources found at KU surrounding this significant decision. “After 60 years, the Brown v. the Board of Education decision continues to play a pivotal role in the ongoing study of education, equality and basic human rights,” said Goodwin Thiel. The exhibition is the result of a collaboration among the KU Libraries’ African-American Experiences Collection, the Wheat Law Library, the Dole Institute of Politics Archive, the University Press of Kansas, the Truman and Eisenhower presidential libraries and museums, and others. The exhibition will be on display through the summer.

On Saturday, April 12, KU Libraries will host another public event on the fifth floor of the Kansas Union. The symposium will consider the legacy of the case as well as its future societal and legal implications. The program begins at 8:15 a.m. and will continue through 4:30 p.m.

“We are thrilled to have an impressive list of national civil rights leaders, community activists that include plaintiffs from the 1954 Kansas and Virginia legal cases, scholars and KU alumni leaders to participate in this commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board,” said Deborah Dandridge, field archivist for KU Libraries’ African-American Experience Collection and symposium coordinator. “The purpose of the symposium is to advance a better public understanding of today’s efforts to fulfill the promise of Brown.  We hope everyone will gain new insight and information that they can take back to their communities and organizations, ensuring all people have equal access to educational, social and economic resources.”

Presentations include:

  • "On the Road to Brown and After 1954," 9:15 a.m.
    The children of Brown v. Board plaintiffs: Linda Brown Thompson, Victoria Benson, Leola Montgomery, Cheryl Brown Henderson, John Stokes, Joy Cabarrus Speaks, Homer Floyd and John Spearman.
  • "The Legacies and Challenges to Fulfilling the promises of Mendez and Brown," 10:45 a.m.
    David Hinojosa, regional counsel with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
  • "Today's Unfinished Business of Brown," 1 p.m.
    Theodore Shaw, Columbia University School of Law.
  • "Creating Equal Opportunities Today: Brown, Public Policies and Practices of Inclusion," 2:15 p.m.
    Jane Dailey, University of Chicago; Hasan Kwame Jeffries, The Ohio State University; and
    Kenneth Mack, Harvard Law School.

For a full schedule, please see

The symposium is sponsored by KU Libraries, the Dana and Sue Anderson African-American Collecting Program Endowment Fund, the Hall Center for the Humanities, KU School of Law, the Langston Hughes Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Both the Friday and Saturday events are free and open to the public. Those who wish to attend should RSVP by Wednesday, April 9, to Rachel Karwas at 785-864-8961 or

The symposium is part of KU’s April series of events, Brown v. Board, Legacies Created, Questions Remain, marking the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education case. On April 17, the School of Law, Hall Center for the Humanities, Chancellor's Office, Office of the Provost, School of Education and Institute for Policy & Social Research will host “Inequality in a Post-Civil Rights Era” with Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University. The full schedule and registration details are available through the Hall Center.

One of the top 50 libraries in the Association of Research Libraries by volumes held, and the largest library system in Kansas, KU Libraries advance discovery, innovation and learning for KU, the state and a rapidly expanding community of world scholars.

KU in the news
“When you cut the budget, you have to cut positions for workers, and that further compounds the recession that we’r…

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today