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Updated 2:00 PM January 13, 2004



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Brown sisters to reflect on historic case

The sisters who were part of the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case will kick off the MLK Symposium and a theme semester in honor of the case Jan. 12.

Linda Brown Thompson, left, and Cheryl Brown Henderson will speak and take questions at "A Conversation with the Brown Sisters" at 6 p.m. Jan. 12 in Rackham Auditorium. (Photo courtesy Linda Brown Thompson And Cheryl Brown Henderson)

The landmark, unanimous case desegregated the nation's public schools 50 years ago. Its legacy has impacted numerous access-to-public education cases, including U-M's own 2003 affirmative action Supreme Court rulings. The case is being celebrated throughout winter term with a series of events and a Brown v. Board of Education theme semester.

"A Conversation with the Brown Sisters" offers a unique chance for today's U-M students to share with Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson their own experiences related to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling. The sisters' high court battle for education access made history in 1954.

"The Brown decision provided a tremendous boost to educational reform in America; it opened the doors for equal educational opportunity for all," says Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs and senior counselor to the president for the arts, diversity and undergraduate affairs.

"The University of Michigan commemorates this landmark decision not only for its legal and historical significance, but also for the fact that our recent victory at the Supreme Court is a part of the ongoing legacy that the Brown decision created."

The two-hour event begins at 6 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium and will be followed by a reception in the Rackham lobby sponsored by the 2004 MLK Symposium Planning Committee, the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives and the NAACP U-M chapter. Admission is free.

A half century ago, Linda Brown was a Topeka, Kan., girl forced to walk seven blocks and then ride a bus five miles to school each day because she was barred from attending an all-white public school four blocks from her home.

"In the last 50 years, each of us in our own ways has participated in a democratic process that has expanded the civil and political rights of citizens and transformed our schools, colleges and universities. But it has not been an easy struggle," says Terrence McDonald, professor of history and dean of LSA.

"The Supreme Court cases that the University recently argued are the most recent events in the continuing effort to fulfill the promise of public education in a democracy. It is appropriate that we step back at this time both to consider how we have met our educational ideals and to recommit ourselves to them."

For more information on Brown v. Board of Education-related events, visit

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