FORT WAYNE—Cheryl Brown Henderson is scheduled to be Indiana Tech Law School’s inaugural distinguished lecturer on Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., April 8 at the Grand Wayne Center. Henderson was one of the plaintiffs in the historic Supreme Court decision of Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
Henderson is one of three daughters of the late Oliver L. Brown, who agreed to file suit on behalf of his children against the Topeka, Kan., school board to integrate the public school system. She will share her personal experiences and describe the decisions that her parents made that led to their becoming part of the famous case.
“Cheryl Brown Henderson is an extraordinary figure in our country’s civil rights history,” said Indiana Tech Law School Dean Peter Alexander, “and we are extremely pleased that she has agreed to be our first distinguished lecturer.”
Henderson is one of the three daughters of the late Rev. Oliver L. Brown who in the fall of 1950 along with 12 other parents, led by attorneys for the NAACP, filed suit on behalf of their children against the local Board of Education. Their case joined with cases from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and on May 17, 1954, became known as the landmark decision Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. This case was legally named for Oliver Brown, i.e., Oliver L. Brown et. al. vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, KS. et. al. Brown died in 1961 before knowing the impact this case would have on the nation.
Henderson is the founding president of The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, and owner of Brown & Associates, educational consulting firm. She also serves as coordinator of Coming of Age/RSVP Johnson County. She has extensive background in education, business and civic leadership, having served on and chaired various local, state and national boards. In addition she has two decades of experience in political advocacy, public policy implementation and federal legislative development.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a minor in mathematics from Baker University, Baldwin City, Kan., a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Emporia State University, Emporia, Kan., and an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Washburn University. She is the recipient of various awards and recognition for work in education and community service; presentations at numerous conferences, conventions and universities; and for her work with Congress and the National Park Service to preserve sites associated with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling of 1954.
In 1988, she founded the Brown Foundation. Since its establishment, the Foundation has provided scholarships to more than 100 minority students, presented awards to local, state and national leaders, established libraries for children in low income communities, developed curriculum on Brown for educators across the country, created traveling exhibits on and a website on Brown, and sponsored programs on diversity and educational issues, for thousands of people. In 1990, under her leadership the Foundation successfully worked with the U.S. Congress to establish the Brown v Board of Education National Park in Topeka, which opened in May 2004. In 2001, under her leadership, the Foundation successfully worked with the U.S. Congress to establish the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Presidential Commission, which served to provide a Federal presence in the 2004 anniversary of the Brown decision.
She has been a invited to the White House on six occasions including to honor of Dr. King and the Children of Civil Rights Movement, commemorate the 75th Anniversary, U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, 49th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act., African American History Month and African American Gospel Music Month.
She is the owner of Brown & Brown Associates, an educational consulting firm, and has an extensive background in education, business, and civic leadership, having served on and chaired various local, state, and national boards. Additionally, she has nearly two decades of experience in political advocacy, public policy implementation, and federal legislative development. She is also an associate with the Westerly Group, a public advocacy firm in Washington, D.C.
The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be at the Grand Wayne Center rather than the Law School because of its wide appeal, Alexander said.
“We especially hope that school-age children and college students will be in attendance,
because Ms. Henderson is living history, not someone they meet every day,” said Alexander.