Cheryl Brown Henderson to explore landmark school desegregation case


Cheryl Brown Henderson, education and civil rights advocate, will discuss her personal experience with segregated schools and the story of how Brown v. Board of Education came to be, as part of the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.

Headshot of Cheryl Brown Henderson
Cheryl Brown

She will deliver her talk at 2 p.m. Jan. 20 in the Rogel Ballroom in the Michigan Union.

Brown Henderson is the daughter of the late Rev. Oliver L. Brown who, in 1950, joined 12 other parents in Topeka, Kansas, to file suit on behalf of their children against the local school board. Led by attorneys for the NAACP, their case was joined with those from other states on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, and became known as the landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.

In May 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits states from denying equal protection of the laws to any person within their jurisdictions.

The decision resulted in the prohibition of assigning children to schools solely based on their race. The court’s verdict allowed African Americans to attend nearby schools instead of traveling great distances to “colored” institutions.

Brown Henderson is founding president of The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, established in 1988, and owner of Brown & Associates, an educational consulting firm she established in 1984.

In 2016, Brown Henderson joined a coalition of students, educators and activists for an in-depth look at how public education is serving African-American students, including how much, and how little, has changed since the 1954 Supreme Court decision.

The event, which is sponsored by the University Library, School of Information, University Housing and the Bentley Historical Library, is free and open to the public.


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