The public comments we’ve received so far about the “Changing America” exhibit at the Library Center confirm for all the project partners that the Springfield community is, indeed, eager to learn and talk about race and race relations.
After touring the “Changing America: the Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963,” one visitor wrote, “Even after all these years, this struggle for freedom is still so powerful and emotional.” A parent commented, “I was glad to share this with my 8-year-old son. It was nice to have a visual reference for him.”
It sets the stage for the keynote event in the ongoing Changing America series sponsored by the Library and the Greater Springfield Race & Faith Collaborative.
Sisters Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson will tell their story at 7 p.m. July 31 in the Central High School auditorium in “Brown v. Board of Education and How it Changed America.” The program will include a short video about the case and an audience Q&A. It is funded by the Friends of the Library and The Library Foundation. The event is free and open to the public.
Their father the Rev. Oliver L. Brown joined other families in the lawsuit successfully challenging racial segregation in the Topeka, Kan., public schools. Their challenge became the landmark, 1954 Supreme Court decision, and their name became forever attached to the fight for desegregation in public schools.
The Browns have ties to Springfield and plan to bring family members on their visit July 31. In 1959 the family moved here, and the Rev. Brown was pastor of Benton Avenue AME Church. Linda also graduated from Central High School in 1961.
When the Rev. Brown died that year, his widow moved their family back to Topeka. Central High School recognizes Linda and her family’s role in this nation’s history with a display case with historical photographs and a narrative recounting their story.
You can read more about the exhibit and the upcoming Changing America programs at thelibrary.org/changingamerica, and all library branches.
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