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 SRU to Open Brown V. Board of Education with Keynote from Journalist Juan Williams 




Contact: K.E. Schwab  -- 724-738-2199;  e-mail:



                    SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Juan Williams, author of the non-fiction bestseller “Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965” and Fox News Channel  and National Public Radio political commentator, opens Slippery Rock University’s multi-part lecture and discussion series focused on reflections on the 50th anniversary of “Brown v. Board of Education: 50 Years of Progress and Struggle.” The semester-long series opens Sept. 21.

          Brown v. Board of Education is the unanimous 1954 U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision that began bringing an end to “separate but equal” education systems for whites and blacks across the U.S. The case was brought by Oliver Brown who objected to having his 8-year-old daughter, Linda, attend a black school two miles from the family home, while a white school was located just five blocks away. Brown originally sued the Topeka, Kan., school board before the case worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

          The “Brown v. Board of Education: 50 Years of Progress and Struggle” series is designed to focus on societal changes that have resulted from the ruling as well as expose students to the importance of diversity and equality in education, says Dr. Renay Scales, assistant vice president of human resources and diversity. “We will use this opportunity to engage the campus and extended community in dialogue about race relations and the implication for the future of education at SRU.”

          Williams, host of “America’s Black Forum,” seen on the Fox News Channel and frequently heard on NPR, will present the kickoff, keynote address at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 in Swope Music Hall. Williams, who also serves as a regular panelist on Fox News Sunday, began his journalism career at The Washington Post where he has served as police reporter, editorial writer, columnist and White House correspondent. His stories have appeared in Fortune, Atlantic Monthly, Ebony, Gentlemen’s Quarter and The New Republic.

          He won an Emmy for TV documentary writing and has been seen on television’s Nightline, Washington Week in Review, Arsenio, Oprah and CNN’s Crossfire and Inside Washington.

          SRU President Robert Smith will continue the series at 3 p.m. Sept. 29 in the Russell Wright Alumni House with “Brown vs. Board of Education: 50 Years Velocity at all Deliberate Speed: How will SRU Accelerate the Next 50?” with Charmaine P. Clowney, director of diversity and equal opportunity at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, giving a response to Dr. Smith’s remarks.  The session is being sponsored by the President’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

          On Sept. 30, Pedro A. Cortez, secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, will deliver a 12:45 p.m. address in the University Union detailing his life experiences related to educational issues and his experiences in helping implement diversity and equality across the state. Cortes, confirmed by the state Senate in 2003 after nomination by Gov. Edward Rendell, administers the department of state and is charged with protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare. He previously served as executive director of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs and has served on the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission and in the Pennsylvania department of public welfare.

          “Separate but Equal: A Student’s Perspective,” sponsored by SRU’s Black Action Society, is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 7 in the University Union. The event will allow students to share their views on the Brown v. Board of Education ruling and its effects on society.

          On Oct. 8, the Honorable Nelson Diaz, the first Latino to serve as general counsel to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the first non-majority administrative law judge in Pennsylvania, will lecture on breaking barriers and his own leadership success. The address will be presented at 6:30 p.m. in the University Union.

          SRU’s Frederick Douglas Institute will sponsor “The Great Debate: DuBois and Carver” in which students will discuss the different educational philosophies of W.E.B. Dubois, a scholar devoted to attacking injustice and defending freedom, and George Washington Carver, who devoted his life to research projects connected primarily with southern agriculture. The dialogue is expected to generate current-day implications based on the two theories. The program will be presented in the Eisenberg Classroom Building Auditorium.

           “Brown v. Board: The History, Law and Impact” will be staged in the University Union at 6 p.m. Nov. 16 and Nov. 18 as a panel discussion led by Dr. Richard Martin, professor and chair of SRU’s political science department, and on Nov. 22, a “Town Hall Meeting on Race Relations” will be held at 7 p.m. in Ebenezer Church, 1119 S. Jefferson St., New Castle.

          The series ends with a three-day series of films set for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 30-Dec. 2 in the Eisenberg Classroom Building Auditorium sponsored by the Harry M. Warmer Film Institute.

           In a related note, SRU’s Dr. Richard Altenbaugh, professor of secondary education and editor of the national Teacher Education Quarterly, reminds the campus a special issue was published earlier this year commemorating the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The special issue includes more than 50 papers on the subject.


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