Delivering on Brown ...
Dear Colleagues:In many parts of the South, desegregation led to the withdrawal of white students from public schools and, consequently, underfunding of public school systems. Private efforts such as this cannot, alone, overcome systemic problems, but they can help.
This year, we have all likely remembered Brown v. Board with campus events and articles. Now, we write to you to take action to deliver a piece of the promise of Brown to the students who have inherited the legacy.
Over 50 years ago in Summerton, South Carolina, Levi Pearson, an African American farmer, petitioned for a school bus for his children's 9-mile trip to Scott's Branch High School. When the request was denied, he went to Rev. J.A. De Laine to ask for help. Rev. De Laine organized the community to sign a petition for equal schools in Clarendon County, SC. Harry Briggs, a Navy veteran, was the first to sign. That petition began the lawsuit Briggs v. Elliott, argued by Thurgood Marshall. The Briggs case was the first of the five legal cases that became known as Brown v. Board of Education.
Today, Clarendon County is part of another legal case -- Abbeville School District v. State of South Carolina. Clarendon is one of eight counties with high minority, high poverty population that is suing the state of South Carolina for the resources to meet the minimum standards for basic education in the state.
Scott's Branch High School is still the public high school in Clarendon County. And today, 50 years after Brown v. Board, the school remains over 98% African American and serves many students from low-income families. Budget cuts have hit the schools in Clarendon very hard. The computer labs have closed because the teacher's assistant position for the lab was eliminated. In such tough economic times, the school library has not purchased new books in years. The county library is in Manning, over 10 miles away from Summerton-out of reach for students and families with limited or no transportation during the workday.
We are asking you to donate one copy of your published works to the Briggs-De Laine-Pearson Foundation in Clarendon County so that they can then donate the books to the high school. These books will become great resources for teachers who aim to plan engaging lessons and for students who are developing research and writing skills for college.
The Briggs-De Laine-Pearson (BDP) Foundation was founded by the children of those whose parents courageously brought the first of the five cases that became Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas. The Foundation exists today with the vision to develop Clarendon County into a thriving community that recognizes the historical contributions of all its citizens and that provides opportunities for each individual to make positive contributions for the common good. The BDP Foundation will donate the books to the school library as they come in.
The BDP Foundation is a nonprofit organization with 501c3 status. Gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible and may be mailed to:
Briggs-De Laine-Pearson Foundation
1578 Gov. Richardson Road
P.O. Box 155
Summerton, SC 29148
You may learn more about the Foundation and its work at www.bdpfoundation.org. Please contribute your book(s) to help the children of those who fought for equality and excellence in the nation's public schools. Also, please share this project with your colleagues in other departments -- all books in all disciplines are appreciated. In this 50th anniversary year of Brown, you can honor the legacy of Rev. De Laine, Thurgood Marshall, and so many other trailblazers by sending books to the children who continue to learn in underfunded schools.
Thank you for your consideration and your donation.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Timothy B. Tyson
University of Wisconsin
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