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Howard - Here is Louisiana's test

Today I enjoyed each of the three lectures that over topic Harry S. Truman, Civil Rights, and the Road to Brown. Once again Shawn Leigh Alexander filled in the gaps of my knowledge of the history of the Brown case. As a lifelong Kansan and an American History teacher for 32 years it always amazes me how much I have to learn about the subject. I was enlightened by the second lecture by social scientists Shirley Hill and John Rury and their talk about education’s effect on the African American community as a result of segregation. The final lecture delivered by Clarence Lang (where he did a great job of leading the discussion) concerned the Truman Administration’s role in Civil Rights and possible motives behind the choices he and his Administration made was rich with ideas.

You are a handsome man.

Yesterday's seminar presentation by Ms. Brown Montgomery and Ms. Henderson gave me the personal experience of being in the presence of people that affected and continue to affect the fabric of society in a positive way. I was touched by the sum total of their story on road to Brown v. Board of Education. The story that came out of segregation and bought the nation to a moral high point for all its people. The road from Brown is one that as a society we are still paving and patching. The job is not done. I will be touched in a positive way forever.

A very simple but effective lesson is to divide the students into 5 groups where they develop a speech to be presented to the class nominating a person for the Groundbreaker Award for pushing forward the civil rights movement. They must mention the area of life it took place, the actions they took and why it was heroic, the legacy for us and what it all means. The nominees are: Jackie Robinson, Little Rock 9, Thurgood Marshall, MLK or Rosa Parks.

Terrence Roberts shares his testimony with Civic Voices at

The transcript of the entire interview is also available at that link!

From the morning session I was saddened to hear about the limited success of those who complete the GRE. Ideally, all students would complete high school by the age of 17, 18, 19 or 20. Unfortunately, this does not work for all students. Those who have had to be out of school for various reasons( pregnancy, incarceration, arrival in the country with limited or no formal education, age limits set by school boards) have to have some way of achieving their high school equivalency. Hearing that those who get a GRE have the same prospects as one who does not complete school was distressing.

Dr. Lang is a compelling speaker. I look forward to hearing more from him later in the week. His point about how we judge historical figures, based on the results of their actions, promotes vigorous debate.

The information that we were presented today brought to my attention the importance of the growth of African-Americans attending high school in the 1940s paved the way for the growth of the African American middle class & more importantly the expansion of African-Americans in higher education. Also today Professor Alexander educated me on the growth, importance & the impact of the NAACP. These presentations brought me valuable information that I can include in my lessons on civil rights & the plight of African Americans. I was impressed with the information on the organization & plan of attack by the NAACP to establish the necessary reforms that brought about the significant shift in egalitarianism in American society

Professor Lang was a dynamic speaker. His premise that groups, such as African Americans, foment change and are not merely the recipients of it, was well stated and thought-provoking. A discussion of this type with my students will empower them and help them to become the active citizens our country needs today.


Hearing first hand experiences from people that were directly involved is "as good as it gets"; it's personal, it's facts and feelings that help to interpret this story to students in a real life way. It's irreplaceable.

Senate Historical Minutes - what was happening in Senate at different time periods:

They explain what they are better than I do:

The United States Senate has inspired thousands of colorful stories. From the first discussions at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 down to our own times, the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” has actively engaged storytellers. Over the past 35 years, Senate historians have prepared short, historical narratives to inform senators, staff, constituents, and others who are curious about the traditions, personalities, and legislative landmarks of the Senate. These stories reflect all areas of Senate activity. From the well-known and notorious, to the unusual and even whimsical, they are presented to enlighten, inspire, amuse, and inform. Read collectively, they provide clear impressions about the forces, events, and personalities that have shaped the Senate of the 21st century.

Yesturday's meeting of the Browns is one that I will always remember. I was moved by listening to them speak and their account of their own personal experience. I will treasure the experience. I can't wait to share with my incoming students!

Today's lecture was not what I expected, much better than I anticipated. This morning, Shawn's presentation was extremely gratifying. For those who are not familiar with the contributions that President Truman choose to invoke concerning the civil rights of Black Americans, should have been here. These lectures, morning and afternoon with Dr. Lang was a mind blowing experience. I wish I had professors like these gentlemen. Also Professors Rury and Hill's take on From Slavery to Freedom and their research on this subject was a blessing, I will use it and will purchase their book.

Clarence was dynamic. I very much enjoyed his lecture but even better was the Q&A discussing Truman in a very real light rather than strictly lecture. The morning was a little boring but there some 1st hand quotes that were very good but most of the numbers were not clear. John Rury was clear and very informative. The quotes were good. Stats were not as clear. Overall a good day. I still think Truman was a racist. He does speak about civil rights in a way that was positive and helps begin the post 50's civil rights movement.

I want to share with you a great web site that offers oral history testimony from social change activists in the US and worldwide. There are listening guides and ready-to-use lesson ideas to accompany the testimonies.

You will also find great testimonies from activists around the world at

The best part of today was the lecture from Clarence Lang. Not only was he an engaging speaker, but he shared excellent insight into the Truman administration, Civil Rights and the affects of the Cold War on the Civil Rights movement.

One of the biggest things that I took from Clarence's lecture is the idea that domestic and foreign policy. When teaching the Cold War and anti-communism next year, I will be sure to introduce the idea that the Civil Rights Movement was greatly affected by the communist scare.

What did it mean to me to hear Leota Brown Montgomery the wife of Oliver Brown and mother of Linda Brown the named plaintiffs in the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education speak a long with her other daughter Cheryl Brown Henderson? As a American Government Teacher it will give great credibility to my lessons over Civil Rights and the Brown case to be able to say I learned these details by talking to this two outstanding cultural resources. This is better than any primary document;it is living oral history from the people who lived the case. What a great learning experience.

John and Shirley's presentation reiterated to me and my classmates the hidden treasure found in oral histories and individual stories. In their research, they were able to gather such valuable nuggets of truth that often are overlooked in the historical canon.
Clarence emphasized the debate that we can have with our audience about different sides of the same coin issue and the benefits of an ensuing discussion.

Dr. Lang was a very dynamic speaker. Very engaging and able to connect with us on the link between foreign policy and civil rights under Truman. This is an image of Black "Rosie the Riveters." Picture of Plessy and Ferguson descendants.
This site has good information and pictures of the Brown plaintiffs. I think I will use the Farmville, VA ones.

Today we had four speakers who were all very informed and added a lot to the subject. They were all professional and were great at answering all of our questions

The lectures today were stimulating and engaging. The only complaint I have is that there just isn't enough time. So many questions come to mind as Shaun and/or Clarence were talking. I have a whole bunch of questions that popped into my head and there just wasn't enough time to ask or discuss them. Hopefully, at dinner we will have some time to discuss these issues.

Many times we refer to people as “walking history” because of their ability to memorize volumes of minutiae and their ability to spout trivia. However, when referencing Mrs. Brown-Montgomery and Mrs. Brown-Henderson “walking history” is appropriate. When sharing their heritage and legacy they provide information, insight and perspective to a period of American history the textbooks routinely fail to properly address. Publishers should avail themselves of the Brown’s insight and knowledge and publish this family’s story for both adults and students to learn. WELL DONE!!!

I have always found Truman to be mildly frustrating and generally felt that he was too timid and slow on civil rights issues, but I found the discussion today enlightening. I still haven't forgiven Truman for his shortcomings, but I am willing to see him in a slighly more sympathetic light. Lectures have been thought-provoking and have already inspired me to modify the way I teach my entire course, not just civil rights/Brown. Lectures from Lang and Alexander have been especially compelling.

Today's lecture and discussion regarding Truman's presidency and his civil rights record was fascinating! Dr. Lang included many ideas that will challenge students to use their critical thinking skills. Also, I loved Dr. Alexander's discussion about how rhetoric often misrepresents a reality.

Yesterday Cheryl Brown Henderson & her mother Mrs Leota Brown Montgomery gave an amazing presentation on the background of Brown vs Board of Education at the Seminar of Presidential Politics Civil Rights & Road to Brown. Through their presentation I found myself totally involved in the historical event. The presentation gave me the human element that was missing from just reading about the civil Rights Episode. I will try & implement a lesson on Brown v Bd from the aspect of the plaintiffs involved. Possibly using role playing with the use of documents instructing the class on what the African-Americans of Topeka KS were facing everyday that they went to school.

Getting to hear Leota Brown Montgomery and Cheryl Brown Henderson. Its not often that you get to hear from history directly. How nice will it be to inform my students that I heard the story directly from the source.

In case you don't know about the Bill of Rights Institute collection of Landmark Supreme Court cases:

They will also email you weekly eLessons that are timely and easy to use in class...

I've always maintained that there is no substitute for 'being there'. There's no other way to get as full an appreciation for the subtleties of a place than to walk where events transpired. If that's true, then how much better could it be than to talk with someone who was there at the place AND time when history has taken place. This was surely the case with the presentation of Linda Brown's mother and sister. Over time, we all acquire material we come to believe is factually true. Going through that experience was incredibly useful for me.

Humbling day. I decided at the outset that I'd take whatever notes I took in one place and I'd keep a separate list of books or articles on the subject I'll want/need to read.

Today's notes are not as much on the content of the day's lectures, but are an extensive, extensive list of so many things I have not read. And need to.

Truly an example of the more you (think you) know, the more you need to learn.

Engaging presenter who filled in details and gave me a better way to tie together the readings we did on Truman. Fabulous to have a great scholar to bounce ideas off and gain new perspectives.

I agree with Howard, and I highly recommend the resources, teaching modules and video lessons available at

I also encourage you to consider participating in their many online and face-to-face seminars and workshops!

The opportunity to hear Ms. Henderson and her mother was not only an enriching opportunity on a personal level, but gave me the opportunity to earn "credibility" with the young people I serve.

The discussion was not only invigorating, but rigorous as group members continue to challenge and grow as scholars and teachers.

Great to hear from the scholars Shirley Hill and John Rury, and Clarence Lang lead us in our exploration of "Presidential Politics, Civil Rights and the Road to Brown" seminar...

I am also excited to know that these scholars will join us again this week for more examination of this important subject.

Thanks again for allowing us to experience this seminar in the state significant for the history we are studying.

I am excited to know that the learning we have begun will deepen as the week unfolds...

Eisenhower Library, here we come!

It was amazing to listen to Mrs. Brown talk about her family's decision to join the case. It made me feel closer to history. I can now tell the story more meaningfully to my students. I enjoyed listening to details she shared that books do not include.

It was such a powerful opportunity to meet with the Brown family and discuss their experiences related to that historic case. As a government teacher for many years, I have certainly covered Brown v. Board and read a lot about it, but to MEET the parties involved and attach real emotion to the event will completely alter the way I share it with my students.

I was absolutely fascinated listening to Cheryl Brown Henderson and Leola Brown. Mrs. Brown, the wife of Pastor Brown is a treasure. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her and her presentation but it was her mother who awed me. Here is a living, breathing part of one of the most significant events in modern history. Had we not been in Kansas, I think it would have been impossible to meet and hear her speak. My students always appreciate when I tell them first person accounts of my own brush with history and this seminar provided me with that opportunity. It was more than worth the trip.

OK I will meet Monica at Dulles and you can pick us up there, Sharon. If you two can work out the time of pickup based on Monica's flight arrival, I will make sure to be there as well. I will need to get lunch at some point before we hit the road. Sharon I will call you on Friday to touch base one last time, and Monica I may do the same for you as well.

There was a reference made today on Mary Chestnut. Here is some information.

here is a link to the Freedman and Southern Society project

There are links to several primary sources we could use in class.

JSTOR article: Francis Lieber and the Civil War

JSTOR article: Francis Lieber and the Civil War
Mission US is a multimedia project that immerses players in U.S. history content through free interactive games. There are currently two missions - One revolving around the events of colonial Boston, the other is about the Underground Railroad. It presents as a choose your own adventure style of online game. Registration is free. My 7th graders love it!

Here's a good history of the freedom suits in St. Louis, demonstrating just how dramatic a departure from the long established state of the law Dred Scott was.