Friday, January 21, 2011

COURAGE Returns to Charlotte

In my ongoing quest to inform my work-in-progress Half-Truths, this past week I attended a panel of four civil rights leaders who worked to answer the question, "Courage: Where do we need it now?"

Juan Williams, left, William Winter, Janet Murguia and John Payton 
photo by Jeff Willhelm

The panel discussion was part of the Levine Museum of the New South's 20th anniversary celebration. In addition, the museum brought back COURAGE: The Carolina Story That Changed America, an exhibit which has been traveling around the country since it first opened in Charlotte in 2004.

Although many are familiar with the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education which ruled that racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional, the stories behind that story are less well known. COURAGE tells the grassroots story of the Rev. J.A. De Laine who worked with the citizens of Clarendon County, S.C., to bring the first lawsuit in America to challenge racial segregation in public schools. Rev. J.A. De Laine's lawsuit combined with four other national lawsuits resulted in the 1954 decision.

In the "it's a small world" category, I have interviewed one of Rev. De Laine's sons and heard some of his thoughts about this tumultous time period.  In a comment that was repeated at the panel discussion, BB Delaine said, "It's up to today's generation to do something about these issues- so our grandkids can have a better life."

Here is a short video which highlights BB Delaine and the opening of the exhibit:

The issues that were most pressing at the panel were concerns about "resegregation" not only in terms of the African American community, but also with the Hispanic community. In conjunction with the COURAGE exhibit, the Levine Museum is running, Para Todos Los Ninos: Fighting Segregation before Brown v. Brown. This exhibit depicts the 1946 U.S. Court of Appeals case, Mendez v. Westminster School District, which ended school segregation for Mexican Americans.

Athough other issues were raised, the panelists agreed on the importance of providing an equal education to all our nation's students. I agree, but I also know that teachers need to be supported by policy makers and parents in a job that requires a quality that there is never enough of: Courage.

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If you live near Charlotte, I am giving away four tickets to the Levine Museum. Become a new follower of my blog and send me an email at and I'll send you a ticket. If you are already a follower, tell a friend to sign up and I'll send you each a ticket! First four responders win.


Linda Phillips said...


Thanks for bringing this to light. It is timely in view of the recent unrest caused by the MLK school make-up day. The school board needs an extra measure of courage to work through its multiple problems.

Carol Baldwin said...

You're right Linda. Perhaps I should email them your comment! Have a good week.

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