Myth and Reality of 1954 Desegregation Case To Be Topic of Public Lecture Feb. 13 at TU

Thursday, February 07, 2002

Published on 2/7/02

A University of Chicago professor will speak Wednesday, Feb. 13, at The University of Tulsa on how the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case came to be viewed two decades later as one of the most important Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century, if not all time. The ruling in Brown held racial segregation of public schools unconstitutional.

Gerald N. Rosenberg, an associate professor of political science, will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the Faculty Study of McFarlin Library. Free parking is available at Fifth Place and Florence Avenue. The lecture, “Mythmaker, Mythmaker, Make Me a Myth: Brown and the Creation of American Ideology,” is free and open to the public.

Rosenberg says the Brown ruling was originally condemned, not praised, and not only by Southern segregationists but also by leading Northern academics and intellectuals.

He says it is only in the late 1960s and early 1970s, roughly two decades after the decision, and after the broader society was committed to civil rights through the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, “that the understanding of Brown as a symbol of what is best in America was created.”

He says the myth is that Brown was of fundamental importance to changes in the treatment of African-Americans “when in fact it was the civil rights movement independent of Brown that led to change.”

Rosenberg, who also teaches in the University of Chicago law school, studies the courts’ impact on political processes such as school desegregation and abortion rights. He is the author of the 1991 book, “The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change?”

The talk is presented by TU’s College of Law, College of Arts and Sciences and political science department. For more information call the TU law school at (918) 631-5622.