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April 3, 2014

MSU Law hosts symposium on school desegregation across the U.S.

The MSU Law Review will be hosting the symposium, “Pursuing the Dreams of Brown and the Civil Rights Act: A Living History of the Fight for Educational Equality” April 10-11. This is in conjunction with the yearlong Project 60/50 initiative to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education and the 50th anniversary of the passage and signing into law of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The symposium will analyze the way school desegregation and integration have unfolded across the country by examining the Supreme Court’s decisions in desegregation cases arising out of Detroit, Kansas City and Seattle. The event will feature a keynote address by professor Gary Orfield of UCLA Graduate School of Education and co-director of The Civil Rights Project at UCLA.

“Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 changed the landscape of our society, and an important part of that change occurred in public schools,” said Kristi Bowman, MSU law professor. “During this symposium, we're honored to be hosting incredible people who were a part of making history. We will have attorneys and parties to education rights cases that went before the Supreme Court, as well as exceptional scholars who will challenge us to think about the changes that have occurred and the obstacles that remain.”

Nicholas Mercuro, MSU professor of law in residence, said: “The late Dr. Wilbur Brookover, and MSU Sociology professor, was an expert witness in Brown v. Board of Education. We’re glad to have his son, George Brookover, an East Lansing attorney, joining us on a panel to speak about his father’s experience.”

Other speakers include Cheryl Brown Henderson, whose father was the named plaintiff in Brown v. Board; Jack Greenberg, a Columbia Law School professor who was trial counsel in Brown v. Board; Nathaniel Jones, a retired federal appeals judge who was the NAACP's attorney in the Michigan school desegregation case Milliken v. Bradley; numerous attorneys who have litigated school desegregation cases in trial courts and in the U.S. Supreme Court; and scholars who have received prominent awards and written acclaimed books, including Philippa Strum (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars), Vanessa Siddle Walker (Emory University), Joyce Baugh (Central Michigan University), and Charles Clotfelter (Duke University).

“Pursuing the Dreams of Brown and the Civil Rights Act: A Living History of the Fight for Educational Equality” will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 10 in MSU Law’s Castle Board Room, and a keynote address that evening at 8 p.m. in the MSU College of Education KIVA classroom. The symposium will continue 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. April 11 in MSU Law’s Castle Board Room.

MSU Law is hosting two Project 60/50-inspired art exhibitions through April 30.

  • Black in White America By Leonard Freed, 4th floor atrium
  • One of Michigan’s Own–Viola Liuzzo: An Exemplary Woman in Extraordinary Times, third floor gallery area

Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at For more information, contact MSU Law Review senior symposia editor Shannon Smith at (307) 679-1526 or or MSU professor of law Kristi Bowman at (517) 432-6974 or

The The symposium is co-sponsored by MSU College of Education; MSU Department of Political Science; MSU LeFrak Forum on Science, Reason and Modern Democracy; MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives; Education Law Association; University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.