President George W. Bush gathered a 21-member panel for a new commission to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka that effectively ended school segregation in America. Among the group was Deborah Dandridge, a member of St. David's in Topeka, and Jesse Milan of St. Martins' in Edwardsville.
The group, commissioned to design public education activities to mark the May 17, 2004 anniversary of the court case, was created by an act of Congress and was signed into law y President Bush in September 2001.
Topeka's Brown Foundation selected Dandridge, who is an archivist and researcher at the University of Kansas, for membership. Milan, who is president of the Kansas Chapter of the NAACP, was selected by Bush as one of the representatives of the state of Kansas.
Dandridge said, "To me this commission represents one of the important ways our nation will be honoring a Supreme Court decision that revolutionized race relations and sparked hope for others around the world to work for social change without violence or war." Milan, who has been a civil rights activist for decades, said, "This is one of the points in my life where I can do what I always have tried to do--make life better for people in the future."
Dandridge commented upon one of the commission's goals - to work with textbook companies in expanding the information of the Brown case presented to schoolchildren. Milan noted that information is critical to people's understanding of the case and its ramifications for American society.
"The group must address the greater question of equal protection under the 14th amendment," Milan said. "We have to look to the future and think about the kind of America we want."
He added, "It is a gift from God to have two Episcopalians on this commission, This really is a teaching moment."
By Paulina C.