Students at University Academy on Thursday met the daughter of the plaintiff who brought the famous Brown vs Board of Education lawsuit to talk about race, education and history.
Cheryl Brown Henderson, the daughter of Oliver Brown, reminded students who attended the event that if they want to know the significance of the education they are getting at University Academy they need to understand the history of education for people of color in this country. University Academy is one of the top performing charter schools in Kansas City.
Brown Henderson, the founding president of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, was a part of a panel that included academy Principal Clem Ukaoma, Kansas City attorney Charnissa Holliday-Scott and Jordan Sanders, student body president. They discussed the state of black education before Brown, and after the 1954 Supreme Court decision that desegregated schools in America.
“When I went to school in the immediate aftermath of Brown v Board the country was shifting,” Brown Henderson said. She explained that during her school years, districts were grappling with how to deliver education to a diverse student body.
“We haven’t completely shed ourselves of some of those biases so challenges remain,” she said, adding that students today have great opportunity to achieve and students, “should focus on future, on getting your education. These decisions are yours.”
The panel was moderated by TateAnna Gravely-Moss a student at University Academy. She told the panel she didn’t care much for history in school, “because it is not my history.” Principal Ukaoma was quick to remind the students that African American history classes are available at the academy and that American history is their history and African American history is sprinkled throughout their history books.
“The thing I got from this,” TateAnna said, “is that if we don’t take initiative and appreciate where we have come from we can’t produce real positive effects in the future.”