West Virginia Universitys yearlong celebration of Brown v. Board of Education will begin in the same setting where the 50-year-old decision outlawing segregation in public schools came downa courtroom with lawyers arguing the merits of the Supreme Court ruling.

The opening events theme,The Legacy and Future of Brown v. Board of Education,will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, in the College of Law Courtroom.

Brown v. Board of Education is celebrated as a landmark constitutional law decision, but there are significant questions as to whether it has fully achieved its purpose,said Kevin Outterson, an associate professor of law who will serve as moderator for a panel discussion on the ruling.

WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr., who formerly practiced law with Bowles Rice and is a graduate of Harvard Law School, will open the program with a few remarks. Vice President of Student Affairs Ken Gray, once the highest ranking black in the Army Judge Advocate Generals Corps, will give the keynote speech.

The panel discussion and question-and-answer session will follow. Panelists will include Roslyn Payne, president of the West Virginia chapter of the National Bar Association, and Andre Cummings, associate professor of law at WVU .

In Brown v. BOE , the Supreme Court ruled thatseparate facilities are inherently unequal,rendering segregation still practiced in Kansas and 20 other states illegal under the 14 th Amendment.

The unanimous decision, handed down May 17, 1954, was limited, however, Outterson explained. The ruling did not require all public schools to end segregation immediately.

A second decision announced a year later provided a road map for what amounted to gradual integration, Outterson said. It ordered governments to implement its previous decisionwith all deliberate speedwhile at the same time allowing forpractical flexibilityandgood faith implementation.In some contexts,all deliberate speedmeantas slowly as possible.

By the time many school districts were truly integrated, many white students had fled to private schools, or school districts had reorganized on geographic lines, segregated by neighborhoods,he added.Today American public schools remain remarkably segregated, a reflection of the segregation patterns in housing and the decline of court-ordered busing.

A discussion of the legal points of Brown v. BOE is an appropriate starting point for the yearlong celebration, given that the issue of segregation was decided in the courts, said Dana Brooks, chairman of the committee organizing the events and dean of WVU s School of Physical Education.

The events that follow will focus on education, sports and family values and feature such high-profile black personalities as author and broadcaster Tony Brown and childrens fiction author Elizabeth Howard, Brooks added.

The lectures and presentations we have planned will give a comprehensive picture of American life before and after Brown v. Board of Education,he said.

Besides WVU , other sponsors include the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter, Monongalia County Board of Education, Council on African and African American Affairs and John Henry Memorial Foundation Inc.

Other scheduled events:

  • Sept. 21 The Image of African American Youth 50 Years After Brown v. Board of Education,Asa Hilliard, 7 p.m., Health Sciences Center auditorium
  • Sept. 30 Every Family Has Stories,Elizabeth Howard, Westover Elementary School
  • Oct. 18 Desegregation of Schools in West Virginia as a Result of Brown v. Board of Educationpanel discussion, 7 p.m., Mountainlair Gluck Theater
  • Nov. 10 What Mama Taught Me: The Seven Core Values of Life,Tony Brown, 7 p.m., Mountainlair Ballrooms
  • Feb. 24, 2005 Segregation and Integration of High School Sports in West Virginiapresentation and poster session, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and keynote speech by David Wiggins, 7 p.m., Ballrooms
  • March 10, 2005 Black Hands in the Biscuits Not in the Classrooms: Unveiling Hope in a Struggle for Browns Promise,Sherick Hughes, 6 p.m., Erickson Alumni Center
  • March 11, 2005 Personal testimonials of individuals who experienced school segregation and integration, 11 a.m., Erickson Alumni Center

More on the Net:http://www.wvu.edu/~socjust/brown_v_board_aug20.htm