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18th Annual Sweatt Symposium celebrates Brown v. Board of Education decision

Dr. John Hope Franklin, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History and former professor of legal history at Duke University, will be the featured speaker at the 18th Annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. John Hope Franklin, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History and former professor of legal history at Duke University, will be the featured speaker at the 18th Annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights.

The symposium, free and open to the public, takes place April 20-23 at The University of Texas at Austin. Franklin’s keynote address will be given April 23 in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Auditorium, 2315 Red River St.

The symposium celebrates the 50th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, a decision that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and desegregated public education and public accommodations across the nation.

The ruling had a profound effect on the country’s struggle to achieve racial equality and diversity at the elementary and secondary public school levels.

“John Hope Franklin is among our last living connections to the Brown case. We are honored and fortunate to have him come to The University of Texas at Austin to help us celebrate this important anniversary,” said Dr. Juliet Walker, a professor in the Department of History at The University of Texas at Austin and a former student of Franklin’s.

Terry Wilson, chairman of the Sweatt Symposium Steering Committee and associate vice president of the Office of Community Relations at the university, said Walker and Dr. Ted Gordon, director of the Center for African and African American Studies, established a Brown Commemoration Committee last summer.

“The Heman Sweatt Symposium Steering Committee had decided to cover the same topic for our annual symposium so it was natural that our two committees joined forces to plan a campus-wide celebration of this landmark case,” he said.

The symposium features several panel discussions and performances.

“We have invited some of the leading scholars in the country to participate on our panel discussions that will be addressing a broad range of topics as it relates to Brown,” said Gordon, co-chair of the Brown Commemoration Committee.

“Our hope is that all participants will walk away from the symposium with a better understanding of Brown’s significance in our lives from the perspective of the past and present.”

From 7 to 9 p.m., April 21, UT Austin students, faculty and staff will present musical, dramatic and poetry performances in Jester Auditorium, Room A121A.

Kenneth Marcus, assistant secretary of education for civil rights, will give an opening address at 12:30 p.m., April 22, in the Thompson Conference Center, Room 1.110.

Panels include:

  • “The Effects of Brown v. Board of Education in Austin — 6:30-8:30 p.m., April 20, Bass Lecture Hall.
  • “Our Commitment To The Struggle” — 7-9 p.m., April 21, Jester Center, Room A121A.
  • “The History of the Supreme Court Decision” — 1:15-2:45 p.m., April 22, Thompson Conference Center, Room 1.110.
  • “African American, Asian American and Mexican American Experiences in the Brown Period” — 3:15-5:45 p.m., April 22, Thompson Conference Center, Room 1.110.
  • “Brown in the International Perspective (African Diaspora)” — 1:15–2:45 p.m., April 23, Thompson Conference Center, Room 1.110.
  • “Brown’s Legacy in the Post-Civil Rights Era” — 3:15–5:45 p.m., April 23, Thompson Conference Center, Room 1.110.

For more information contact: Office of Community Relations, 512-232-4850.