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Publications : Bar Bulletin

Editor: W. Patrick Tandy

March, 2004

 

MSBA Celebrates Brown vs. Board of Education 50th Anniversary
~Presents Special Commemorative Event with Center Stage~

By Janet Stidman Eveleth

Fifty years ago, on May 17, 1954, the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision began the process of dismantling segregation in this country’s public schools by striking down the “separate but equal” legal doctrine. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this historic milestone, Center Stage, in association with the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) and other community groups, is hosting an educational and entertaining celebratory event this May.

On May 3, 2004 at 8:00 p.m., Center Stage will present a commemorative event highlighting key oral arguments of the Brown vs. Board of Education case. Through live readings from the original trial transcripts and the Court’s decisions, complemented by period news clippings and editorials, an audiovisual presentation and recollections from members of the community, the event will tell the story of Brown and offer insight into the heart of the momentous transformation wrought by this case.

This commemoration will feature a range of community leaders, including MSBA President Harry S. Johnson and other MSBA members, offering dramatic oral readings from actual trial excerpts of Brown vs. Board of Education. Additional recitations of media coverage and commentary of the time, including material from both the Baltimore Sun and the Afro-American newspapers, will complement the trial readings. Photos, memorabilia and an audiovisual component featuring community commentary will enhance the readings, as will local high school students from Center Stage’s Encounter outreach program offering contemporary reflections.

A moderator will then engage the audience in a lively, interactive dialogue of issues the commemoration has raised, especially as they relate to contemporary times. Together, the participants will explore the long-term impact of Brown, examine the correlation between this decision and subsequent Court rulings on affirmative action in higher education and Brown’s legacy to future generations of Americans.

Center Stage and commissioned playwright Jerome Hairston, aided by University of Maryland School of Law professor Katherine Vaughns and several student volunteers, have crafted Brown’s trial transcripts into a compelling and insightful text for the May 3 dramatic presentation.

The May 3 community arts program, the first of its scope for Center Stage, will be held at 8:00 p.m. in the Pearlstone Theater at Center Stage, 700 North Calvert Street, in Baltimore City. While the event is free and open to the public, tickets must be reserved by calling the Center Stage box office at (410) 332-0033 after April 1, 2004. This celebration of Brown vs. Board of Education is a collaborative community effort and is expected to attract a sell-out crowd.

Center Stage is presenting this program in association with MSBA, the Bar Association of Baltimore City, the University of Maryland School of Law, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History and Culture and other groups yet to be confirmed. The Baltimore Sun is sponsoring the commemorative event, and the Baltimore Community Foundation is generously funding it along with the Aaron Straus & Lillie Straus Foundation.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: March, 2004

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