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Speaking Up

A look at noteworthy addresses in the Southland.

March 25, 1994| Julian Bond, educator and civil rights activist, spoke last Friday about the historic Brown vs. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision at Loyola Marymount University. From his address: and

On Brown vs. Board of Education "In just the last few months, we have been reminded over and over again about the centrality of race in American life. The daily news reminds us. Surveys of public opinion demonstrate with crushing frequency that many members of the diminishing American majority believe racial minorities are less worthy than themselves of inclusion into the national community, their cries for justice easily dismissed as special pleading from disgruntled and non-competitive complainers.

"On the other side, years and years of endless pleas for justice, turned aside time and again, have produced a reaction among many of the dispossessed that argues for an end to unanswered cries for inclusion, and a voluntary return to the separate but equal world that many imagine existed years ago.

". . . My grandfather belonged to a transcendent generation of black Americans, born into slavery, freed by the Civil War, determined to make their way as free women and men. Education was one weapon they used to secure their freedom. . . . For (my father), too, education was the means to a larger end--the uplift of his people and the salvation of his race.

"How fitting, then, that he would be able to assist the NAACP in its legal campaign against school segregation, the campaign that culminated in the Supreme Court's landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision, whose 40th anniversary we celebrate this year.

"Make no mistake, although we have found ourselves in various stages of advance and retreat in the 40 years since Brown, its anniversary is cause for celebration, not dismay. We celebrate the brilliant legal minds who were its architects . . . the brave families who were its plaintiffs, and . . . the legal principle that remains its enduring legacy--in the words of former Chief Justice Earl Warren, speaking for a unanimous court, that 'the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place.' "

On the Promise of Brown

"It is easy to cast a cynical eye on the status of school desegregation in the United States today, or the sorry state of race relations, and minimize the significance of Brown. . . . That the quest for meaningful equality, political and economic equity, remains unfulfilled today is not an indictment of past efforts. It is testament to our challenge.

"Today, this slave's grandson teaches at the university slave owner Thomas Jefferson founded in Virginia. I teach young Americans about the modern-day struggle for human liberty. My students are filled with the cynicism and despair of their age. For them, these are the worst of times, and my documentation of a harsher and more oppressive past does not always convince them that these days are better. . . . If the years since Brown did not succeed in dismantling segregated schools, those years have seen American preferences for segregated education shrink.

". . . There are those who scoff at Brown. . . . They miss the point of the school desegregation movement.

". . . The NAACP's brief argued: 'These infant appellants are asserting the most important secular claims that can be put forward by children, the claim to learn and grow and the . . . even more important claim to be treated as entire citizens of the society into which they have been born.' . . . That was Brown's promise 40 years ago and it remains Brown's promise to us now."

Announcements concerning prominent speakers in Los Angeles should be sent to Speaking Up, c/o Times researcher Nona Yates, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053

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