Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Childhood Perspective on Brown

BOND: Congresswoman Lee, welcome to Explorations in Black Leadership.

LEE: Good to be with you.

BOND: We want to begin with some questions about Brown v. Board of Education. I know you were eight in 1954 when the decision came down, but do you remember any discussion about it then and any speculation then about what this might mean?

LEE: I remember, vaguely remember, discussion about it, because my grandfather and my mother, of course, were very involved with the El Paso Chapter of the NAACP. One of the reasons that I ended up in Catholic school, which I went to Catholic school during my grammar school years, the schools were segregated. Our black school was a wonderful school where my mother attended — Douglass School, in El Paso. But because they were so adamant about segregation based on principle, they said, "We're not going to participate anymore in segregation." And so they required myself and my two sisters to go to Catholic school, and so I remembered the discussion and I remember knowing that, oh, finally, this would open up the opportunity for me to go to school with all of my other friends in the neighborhood.