Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Personal Connection to Brown

BOND: Now, what has it meant to your life personally, not just the Brown decision and the integration of schools, but this chain of civil rights victories that came during this period in the courts -- what has this meant to you?

NORTON: I just -- I have to step back, and -- particularly as a person who has studied history -- and think about why it moved me so. It seemed to me that there was an understanding of young people in my generation that we were at a unique moment in time for our people, for black people, when for the first time the Supreme Court of the United States said separate but equal is unconstitutional. You don't have to go to Dunbar High School to understand that is very significant. So, for me, the seriousness of the moment, the desire to take advantage of the moment and in any and every way I could was, I think, only made more --made clearer by having -- by being in a segregated high school when that decision was announced and having the matter put to us as it was by the principal. If you didn't get it, you got it that day, when he made a very special point of it. I must say, for the black middle class in the District of Columbia, for the black community in general, and for my own parents, that there was a deep sense of anger, in the first place, that people who were striving for education, were striving to improve themselves, would ever have been segregated, so we thought this was our just due.