The Institute for Public Service
and Policy Research has embarked on a two-year project
to mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1954 decision
of the U.S. Supreme Court abolishing segregation in
public schools. The project will culminate in the publication
of a series of papers published by the Institute on
May 17, 2004, examining the status of African-Americans
and race relations in South Carolina and making public
policy recommendations for eliminating the vestiges
of segregation which linger in various aspects of current
life in the state.
Additionally, USC President Andrew Sorensen and Provost
Jerome D. Odom have requested that the Institute "coordinate
the many activities of the University being planned
for the anniversary," observing that "South
Carolina played a key role in this monumental decision."
South Carolina was one of the original parties to the
ligitation in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fred Sheheen, a senior fellow at the Institute, will
direct and guide the project, with the advice and assistance
of a distinguished Steering Committee. The Institute
has already begun communications with other USC units
which are planning activities in connection with the
anniversary celebration and will seek to coordinate
all such projects.
AME bishops led a prayer vigil at the U.S. Supreme
Court while arguments in Brown v. Board of Education
were being presented before the Court. Photo reproduced
by permission from Quest for Equality: Briggs
Meanwhile, the United States Congress has created the
Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary
Commission to lead a national observance of the event.
The Commission will visit South Carolina the first week
in June. The University of South Carolina and the Institute
for Public Service and Policy Research will host the
The Institute's role, in summary, will include:
- Examining the status of African-Americans and race
relations in South Carolina through a series of research
- Coordinating USC activities marking the 50th anniversary
of the court decision.
- Hosting the visit of the national (Brown) Commission
to South Carolina.
External financial support for the research project
and other activities has been contributed by a number
of entities. The organizations contributing include
Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough; the McNair Law
Firm; Nexsen, Pruet, Jacobs and Pollard; the S.C. Commission
on Higher Education; the South Carolina Public Service
Authority (Santee Cooper); and BellSouth.
The Institute has retained the services of five distinguished
faculty members from public and private higher educational
institutions in the state to inquire into several subject
areas of importance to African-Americans in South Carolina.
These areas include: (1) Education, (2) Economic Status,
(3) Justice, (4) Participation in Public Life, and (5)
Status of the Family.
The researchers will complete their work by December
15, 2003, and the material produced will serve as the
basis for deliberations by the project's Steering Committee
for formulating recommendations in public policy for
the state. On May 17, 2004, the 50th anniversary of
the Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Board of Education,
the Institute will publish the research papers as well
as the recommendations.
The members of the Steering Committee include the following
Fred R. Sheheen, Senior Fellow, Institute for Public
Service and Policy Research, University of South Carolina,
former S.C. Commissioner of Higher Education
Stuart Andrews, Attorney, Nelson, Mullins, Riley and
Paul W. Beazley, Retired, Deputy Commissioner, South
Carolina Human Affairs Commission
Dr. Andrew Billingsley, Scholar-in-Residence, Institute
for Families in Society, University of South Carolina.
Janie Davis, Executive Director, South Carolina Commission
for Minority Affairs
Dr. Marianna Davis, Special Assistant to the President,
Dr. Bob Moore, Retired, Professor of History, Columbia
Dr. Cleveland Sellers, Director, African American Studies,
University of South Carolina
In addition to the research to be completed on the
five topic areas mentioned above, the project will include
a survey to examine attitudes among South Carolinians
to determine to what extent racial prejudice and pre-conceived
notions based on race are extant among the population.
Joseph A. De Laine, a local pastor, led and organized
the black community's quest for equality in Clarendon
County, SC. Photo reproduced by permission from
Quest for Equality: Briggs v. Elliott.
The national Brown v. Board of Education
50th Anniversary Commission will meet in South Carolina
on June 3 through 5, 2003. Established on September
18, 2001, by the United States Congress Public Law 107-41,
the Brown Commission was created for the purpose of
encouraging and providing for the commemoration of the
50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Brown
v. Board of Education.
The Brown Commission members were selected by the President
of the United States, the Secretary of the U.S. Department
of Education, the Attorney General of the U.S. Department
of Justice, the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court,
the head of the Brown Foundation (for Educational Equity,
Excellence, and Research), the director of the NAACP
Legal Defense and Education fund, and the superintendent
of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic
Site. Members from each of the four states (Kansas,
South Carolina, Delaware and Virginia) and the District
of Columbia, represented by the Brown v. Board of
Education decision were recommended to the President
by the leadership of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House
of Representatives. (It should be noted that the State
of Massachusetts is additionally acknowledged and represented
due to a case for desegregation heard in its state courts
during the mid-nineteenth century.)
South Carolina's presidentially appointed representatives
are Joseph A. De Laine, Jr. and Carolyn N. Sawyer.
During its visit to South Carolina, the Brown Commission
will be honored at a reception to be hosted by BellSouth.
The Commission will hold at least one public meeting
in Columbia. At the meeting, the Institute and other
USC representatives will make presentations outlining
their plans for observing the 50th anniversary of Brown
v. Board of Education. Later, the Commission
will travel to Clarendon County for a day of observances
and other activities. South Carolina Educational Television
has planned a special taping of the Brown Commission
at its studios.
President George W. Bush issued a statement upon signing
the law creating the Brown v. Board of
Education 50th Anniversary Commission. "The
Commission will advise the Secretary of Education on
activities to help celebrate one of the most important
decisions ever issued by the U.S. Supreme Court--the
decision that recognized the constitutional right to
freedom from racial discrimination in our public schools....
I look forward to the national celebration in 2004 of
the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision
in Brown v. Board of Education."
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige declared upon
announcing the appointment of the Commission: "The
Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown v. Board
of Education dramatically opened the doors of opportunity
to countless numbers of Americans, including me....The
Brown decision is a stark reminder that we must not
rest until all children, no matter their race or ethnicity,
no matter whether they live in an urban, suburban or
rural school district, no matter whether or not they
have a disability, have access to a high quality education."
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said, "Brown
v. Board of Education was truly a watershed decision
in American jurisprudence. The Supreme Court eliminated
the offensive 'separate but equal' doctrine and laid
the groundwork for the civil rights movement that has
been critical to ensuring justice and equality for all