Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Reflections on Brown

BOND: Representative Sellers, welcome to Explorations in Black Leadership. We’re glad to have you.

SELLERS: Well, thank you for having me. It’s a blessing to be here today.

BOND: It’s our pleasure having you. Let me ask you a question about the Brown decision, which happened thirty years before you were born. But even though you didn’t see it happen or witness it happen, you surely have been affected by it in various kinds of ways. What do you think it meant to you as a school child?

SELLERS: I think that it broke down barriers, substantial barriers, to growth and development. I think it gave the opportunity for blacks and whites to sit down together and have the dialogue and even more importantly, I think it shattered the theory that was established by Plessy, that you had to be separate and that was still equal, so I was, even though it was twenty-nine, thirty-some odd years before I was born, I think that was the landmark case in my life and whenever I speak, I often use Chief Justice Warren’s opinion in which he said that segregation causes a sense of inferiority by placing children in environments not conducive to learning — I oftentimes use that as a point whereby I begin to talk about where we have come from and where we go from here.