TOPEKA – United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder will be in Topeka Tuesday, May 17th, for a community-wide celebration of the 57th Anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
The attorney general and his wife Sharon Malone will be keynote speakers at a banquet inside the Regency Ballroom of the Ramada Inn Convention Center, 6th and Jefferson streets. The event is sponsored by the Brown Foundation, the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Washburn University and the Washburn University School of Law.
Holder is the 82nd U.S. Attorney General and the first African American to serve in that position. Malone is a native of Mobile, Alabama. In 1963, her sister Vivian Malone Jones, along with James Hood, made history by becoming the first African American students to attend the University of Alabama.
Cheryl Brown Henderson, president of the Brown Foundation and daughter of case namesake Oliver Brown, said that combined history gives them a unique perspective and makes them the ideal people to speak at the anniversary event.
“The appointment of Eric Holder as the first African American to serve as the U.S. Attorney General and the civil rights activism of Dr. Malone’s family, is part of a contemporary historic continuum that began with the cases known as Brown v. the Board of Education,” Brown said.
“This U.S. Supreme Court ruling set the stage for African Americans and other disenfranchised groups to gain unfettered access to education, housing, employment and voting rights, which led to the 2008 election of the nation’s first African American President,”
In 1951, the NAACP assembled families in Kansas, Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. to join in a legal challenge to racially segregated public schools which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on May 17, 1954, in the cases combined as Brown v. Board of Education. The Brown Foundation began hosting annual commemorative events of the court decision in 1989 to remind the public of the significant role played by Kansas in laying the foundation for the modern Civil Rights Movement.
This year’s event will also feature the music of blues, jazz, gospel and R &B artists, including Kelley Hunt and the Max Roach Tribute Band led by David Basse. Gregg Carroll, the director of the American Jazz Museum, in Kansas City will be the guest host for the evening.