Brown v. Board at 60: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Washburn Law's Center for Law and Government and the Washburn Law Journal are pleased to convene a symposium that explores in a critical manner what the Brown v. Board of Education decision has meant and what it will continue to mean looking forward. Distinguished experts will participate in three distinct plenary sessions:

  1. The Life of Brown
  2. Race and Education Today
  3. Contemporary Race Issues: Confronting Inequality in the 21st Century

The symposium will be held Thursday, February 27, 2014, at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center at SW 17th Street and SW Jewell Avenue on the Washburn University Campus (map). Free parking is available south and west of Bradbury Thompson.

Symposium Schedule

Thursday, February 27, 2014

8:30 a.m. – Registration

8:50 a.m. – Welcome

  • Thomas J. Romig, Dean and Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law
  • Reginald Robinson, Director, Center for Law and Government and Professor of Law, Washburn University School of Law (bio)
  • Aaron K. Friess, Editor-in-Chief, Washburn Law Journal

9:00 a.m.

  • Cheryl Brown Henderson, Founding President, Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research (bio)
    The Legacy of Brown

Photograph: Cheryl Brown Henderson.

9:45 a.m. – Panel 1: The Life of Brown

This panel will examine the history of the Brown v. Board litigation and the effort to desegregate Kansas public schools in the aftermath of the decision. Additional focus will be placed on the events surrounding the 1979 re-opening of the case.

Photograph: Deborah Dandridge. Photograph: Chris Hansen. Photograph: Dan Biles. Photograph: Joseph Zima.

  • Moderator (TBA)
  • Deborah L. Dandridge, Field Archivist and Curator, African American Experience Collections, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas (bio)
    The History of Brown v. Board
  • Chris Hansen, Retired; formerly Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union (bio)
    Reopening Brown in the 1980s
  • The Honorable Dan Biles, Justice, Kansas Supreme Court (bio)
    Personal Reflections
  • Joseph Zima, Retired; formerly School District Attorney, Topeka Unified School District 501 (bio)
    Personal Reflections

11:45 a.m. – Box Lunch (provided to registrants)


  • Jack Alexander, Retired; President-elect, Kansas Historical Foundation (bio)
    Experiences as an African-American Student in Topeka During the 1950s

Photograph: Jack Alexander.

12:45 p.m. – Panel 2: Race and Education Today

This panel will address the current state of the U.S. educational system in light of the social, economic, and legal developments since Brown. Special focus will be placed on school funding issues; social and cultural factors that contribute to de facto school resegregation; and the Supreme Court's change in direction on desegregation issues, as seen in Missouri v. Jenkins, Parents Involved, and other cases.

Photograph: Shirley Hill. Photograph: Preston Green. Photograph: Able Bartley.

  • Moderator (TBA)
  • Shirley A. Hill, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Kansas (bio)
    Historical Perspective of Social and Educational Race Issues
  • Preston Green, John and Carla Klein Professor of Urban Education, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut (bio)
    Perpetuation of Educational Disparities After Brown
  • Abel A. Bartley, Director, Pan-African Studies Program, Clemson University (bio)
    Desegregation in Jacksonville, Florida

2:30 p.m. – Break

2:45 p.m. – Panel 3: Contemporary Race Issues: Confronting Inequality in the 21st Century

After the death of Justice Thurgood Marshall, Elena Kagan, then a professor, wrote in the Texas Law Review that "in Justice Marshall's view, constitutional interpretation demanded . . . that the courts show a special solicitude for the despised and disadvantaged." This panel will examine recent decisions by the Supreme Court – on marriage, voting rights, employment discrimination, and affirmative action, among others – in an attempt to determine how the Roberts Court has embraced or rejected Justice Marshall's vision, and whether the current Court's approach to civil rights issues is an improvement on the Warren Court's approach in Brown or a regression from it.

Photograph: Cedric Powell. Photograph: William Yeomans. Photograph: Juan Perea.

  • Moderator (TBA)
  • Cedric Merlin Powell, Professor of Law, University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law (bio)
    Neutrality and Race Discrimination
  • William Yeomans, Fellow in Law and Government, American University Washington College of Law (bio)
    Voting Rights and Inequality
  • Juan F. Perea, Professor of Law, Loyola University Chicago School of Law (bio)
    Affirmative Action and Social and Economic Segregation

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Registrations for this symposium are no longer being accepted.
You are welcome to attend the symposium but we are unable to provide lunch for individuals who have not pre-registered.

Washburn Law Journal Special Issue

Washburn Law Journal, volume 53, issue 3 (summer 2014), will be dedicated to the topic of this symposium, and articles written by the participants will be featured. Participants are encouraged, but not required, to submit an article, essay, etc., to take advantage of this opportunity for publication. Authors who cannot attend the symposium, but would like to submit, will also be considered for publication in the Journal.

Recent symposium issues of the Washburn Law Journal have focused on immigration law, oil and gas law, the rule of law and the war on terrorism (part 1 | part 2), and humanizing legal education. The Journal also published a Brown 50th anniversary symposium issue in 2004. See the Journal's archive for other past issues.

Inquiries about publication opportunities in the Washburn Law Journal should be directed to Aaron Friess, Editor-in-Chief, at or (785) 670-2207.

Logo: Kansas Humanities Council.

This event is funded in part by a generous grant from the Kansas Humanities Council.

General Inquiries

Shawn Leisinger
Executive Director, Centers for Excellence
(785) 670-2464

Professor Reggie Robinson
Director of the Center for Law and Government
(785) 670-1674.

Media Contact

Shelia Summers
Assistant Director of Marketing Communications
(785) 670-1784

Washburn Law and Brown v. Board
Image: Partial cover of Washburn Lawyer, summer 2004 issue, discussing contributions of Washburn Law graduates to the Brown v. Board case.

Many Washburn Law graduates were involved on both sides in the Topeka Brown v. Board case. Learn more in the summer 2004 issue of Washburn Lawyer.