Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

The Meaning of Brown

BOND: That's a nice segue into the next question and, again, going back to Brown, how has the Brown decision in '54 affected your life today and in the intervening years. I know you went to an integrated college, so Brown had little impact I would guess on that, but you've had a preoccupation, some would say, with education and now are engaged in a project in your own hometown so what has Brown meant to you in that sense over these many years, professionally I guess?


RASPBERRY: Brown has meant a lot of things, some psychological, some practical, it -- to have the nation's highest Court say what we already knew is still profoundly important, I think -- that we are full-fledged human Americans. No subcategories. We are full-fledged Americans. Our humanity is complete. That's a reassuring notion to internalize and to have other people who doubted our humanity to internalize, so it's meant that.

It's meant the opportunity for vastly improved education for a huge segment of the black middle class. It's meant a number of things. It meant school improvement in a lot of cases. What it didn't mean, though, and what it didn't accomplish is a significantly improved education for the poorest and most damaged of African Americans in the rural areas and in the big cities. It wasn't that anybody made a decision not to help those kids. We just sort of thought that if we helped the ones who were least damaged, the help will eventually trickle down to those who are most damaged and it hasn't.