Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Diversity Digest Volume 8, Number 2

Diversity Digest
Volume 8,
Number 2

Download our print issue (PDF)
Institutional Leadership and Commitment
The Lasting Legacy of Brown
University of South Carolina Upstate:
A Model of Excellence and Diversity
Fifty Years after Brown v. Board of Education: Reflections from an Activist-Administrator
Faculty Involvement
A Search for Deep Diversity in the Communication Classroom
Making Diversity News
The 1954 Brown Decision: Fueling the Torch of Liberation for Asian Pacific Americans
Brown v. Board’s Legacy and Contemporary Black Higher Education
Student Leaders Reflect on the Legacy of Brown
The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice: Education and Empowerment for an Engaged Citizenry
Diversity at Middlesex Community College
Books on Brown v. Board of Education

The Lasting Legacy of Brown

By Mark Giles, editor, Diversity Digest

This issue of Diversity Digest contains articles and resources focused on the lasting lessons, legacies, and spirit of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. This year of the fiftieth anniversary, filled with ceremonies, celebrations, and commemorations of that decision, has highlighted many well known and lesser known people who fought for change and reminded us of how their struggles transformed this nation. Brown was a landmark legal decision and a watershed event in American history. Moreover, it indelibly changed the social, cultural, and political landscape of the United States.

Not only did Brown help provide legal momentum to the mass struggles for social justice of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, it also signaled a sea change in federal policy, directly targeting one of the most influential social institutions in the country: public education. Although the Brown decision mandated an end to racial segregation in K-12 education, it also had a direct and revolutionary impact on higher education and across American society. In addition, Brown was a touchstone for other disenfranchised minority groups who dared to dream that the promise of democracy as written in the Constitution would be fulfilled in everyday life. Clearly, Brown affected America’s social, political, economic, and racial landscape from the civil rights movement of the 1950s through the oscillating legal decisions on affirmative action and desegregation of the past thirty years.

In This Issue

Brown v. Board of Education
left a lasting imprint on America and its notions of citizenship, democracy, diversity, and social equity.

The articles in this issue of Digest explore a range of effects that the 1954 decision had on higher education. Vice Chancellor for Student and Diversity Affairs Leon Wiles of the University of South Carolina Upstate describes how the institutional commitment to diversity is a driving force for change and excellence. Charlie Nelms, vice president of institutional advancement and student affairs at Indiana University, shares excerpts from a speech he delivered at the Gary, Indiana, NAACP Life Membership Dinner. His words echo the importance of diversity and democracy and reflect a life and career lived on the front line of activism and leadership in higher education. Professor Heather E. Harris reveals the significance of using communication courses to advance principals of diversity for students. AAC&U staff member Daniel Teraguchi takes a slightly different approach and shows how Brown affected not only African Americans, but also Asian Pacific Americans and the movement to institutionalize Asian American studies.

Scholar Marybeth Gasman’s article explains the connection between Brown and historically black colleges and universities. AAC&U intern Sherwynn Umali shares her interviews with undergraduate student leaders at the University of Maryland College Park. She wanted to learn how they understood Brown and its significance to diversity and integration on that campus.
This issue also features campus-community connections and reveals the spirit of change that springs from democratic principles. Beverly Wright and Debra Rowe share a compelling story about an issue often overlooked in diversity conversations: environmental justice. Their article focuses on the empowering mission and work at Xavier University in New Orleans and the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. Finally, Walter Clark describes initiatives at Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut, that focus on diversity-driven institutional transformation and preparing students to cross cultural boundaries.

Brown v. Board of Education left a lasting imprint on America and its notions of citizenship, democracy, diversity, and social equity. Second only to the post-World War II student enrollment boom caused by the GI Bill, Brown immeasurably transformed higher education, which continues to grapple with its complex implications.

Questions, comments, and suggestions regarding Diversity & Democracy should be directed to Kathryn Peltier Campbell at campbell@aacu.org.
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