The daughter of the man whose name is on the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case is urging Jackson State University students to know their history.
Jackson State University students, faculty and staff are celebrating the 49th Martin Luther King Junior Birthday Convocation. Cheryl Brown Henderson is here. She's one of Oliver Brown's three daughters. He was the lead plaintiff in the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education case, which led to the desegregation of public schools. Henderson dispells what she calls a myth about the case.
"The myth of Brown is this, that a little girl wanted to go to her neighborhood school. She couldn't because it was segregated. Her father was angered by that and sued the school board. That happens not to be true," said Henderson.
What is true Henderson says, is that her father, who was a minister, was drafted into the struggle to desegregate three elementary schools in Kansas.
"My father was asked to join the roster of plaintiffs by a friend who was an attorney for the NAACP. Came to our home and asked if he would do that. And little did he know he would become a standard-bearer for that case. My parents were not civil rights activists. They were simply two people with an abiding belief that being a United State citizen was not a spectator sport,"said Henderson.
Henderson says Martin Luther King, Jr. organized three marches in the late 1950's because of the government's slow response to desegregating public schools. JSU History Professor Robert Luckett organized the convocation and wants students to understand,
"Want them to understand that history is a living thing, that this history isn't that long ago, that these people are still connected to us, that the movement is still connected to us," said Luckett.
A movement Cheryl Brown Henderson wants students to continue to appreciate and work for the betterment of all Americans.