Topics: Speakers, Inclusive Excellence

December 23, 2020

Cheryl Brown Henderson

Activist Cheryl Brown Henderson will discuss the legacy of the landmark desegregation Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education on February 2 as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Unity Week observances at Ball State University.

She is the founding president of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence, and Research and a daughter of the lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case. The virtual presentation begins at 7 p.m. on Zoom. It is free and open to the public.

Ball State’s annual Unity Week, which this year is Feb. 1-7, aims to challenge perspectives on matters of diversity, inclusivity and solidarity.

“The Ball State community will learn a great deal about the legendary case from a person with a unique perspective,” said Bobby Steele, director of Ball State’s Multicultural Center. “There are few people like Cheryl Brown Henderson who can provide such thoughts on how the historic decision contributed to advancing civil rights in our country.”

Brown Henderson is one of three daughters of the late Rev. Oliver L. Brown, who, in the fall of 1950 along with 12 other parents in Topeka, Kansas, filed suit on behalf of their children against the local board of education. They were led by attorneys for the NAACP.

In the milestone decision, the Supreme Court ruled that separating children in public schools on the basis of race was unconstitutional. It signaled the end of legalized racial segregation in the schools of the United States, overruling the "separate but equal" principle set forth in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case.

In addition, she has two decades of experience in political advocacy, public policy implementation and federal legislative development.

Her education includes a bachelor’s degree from Baker University, Baldwin City, Kansas; a master’s degree from Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas; and honorary doctorates from Washburn University and the University of South Florida.

Unity Week is planned by student organization leaders and professional staff from across the University. Since 1980, Unity Week remains dedicated to unifying the Ball State community through enlightening social, cultural and educational events. Details will be finalized in early January.