Facebook Pixel Tracking Pixel
Connect with us

Black History

Panel At HU Discusses 70th Anniversary of Historic School Desegregation Ruling

“Panelists at a Hampton University forum commemorating the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education discuss the strides made in education equity, emphasizing the role of HBCUs and the ongoing need for community engagement and parental involvement in shaping the future of public schools.”

#BrownvBoard #EducationEquity #HBCUs #CommunityEngagement #PublicSchools

New Journal and Guide Staff


Former Governor of Virginia and member of  Virginians for Reconciliation, Bob McDonnell partnered with Hampton University for his group’s first forum to enlarge the community conversation about race. McDonnell said over the upcoming year, he plans 12 or 13 such gatherings. The next is planned for Regent University of Law in Virginia Beach.

Hampton University President Darrell K. Williams hosted this first forum on May 16 on the university campus with a panel discussion led by McDonnell to mark the 70th Anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Decision that ended racial segregation in public schools in America.

The free and open to the public forum  was planned also in partnership with Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, and Congressman Bobby Scott.

The Brown v. Board of Education ruling on May 17, 1954 declared state laws establishing separate public schools for Black and white students to be unconstitutional.

Prince Edward County, Virginia was one of the five pivotal partners in the legal case that resulted in the landmark Supreme Court decision.

In introducing the forum to the room full of guests, McDonnell, who moderated the panel of four, said the discussion on school desegregation in Virginia would be three-fold; History, Legacy, and Next.

On the panel were Virginia Sen. Mamie Locke, Dr. Jeremy Railey, Chief of the Virginia Department of Education, Dr. Richard Mason, Chairman of the Hampton School District, and Paul Harris of Richmond, a former state Delegate.


The four conducted a lively discussion on the state’s history in public school education which they agreed has undoubtedly changed since the 1954 decision that ended “separate but equal” schools.

And yet, Mason and Locke said, much work remains to bring equity to the state’s public schools.

Sen. Locke noted there are more resources and funding today coming from the state’s budget for education, but also the focus on teaching history and civics has been checked. “All history is not being taught and certain history eradicated,” she said emphatically.

When discussing solutions, they mentioned the necessity of early intervention and developing early reading skills. Dr. Mason noted that when states plan the future needs of prison populations, the reading ability of children as young as 2nd or 3rd graders forms the basis to project who will be imprisoned and how many prison beds needed for them.

The panel agreed on the importance of getting parents engaged and involved in the schools and their children. However, Dr. Mason cautioned that in the present political climate, parent involvement must not be driven by politics.

Other solutions to improve public schools included enlarging support staffs to assist teachers; developing public-private partnerships between businesses and schools that offer students real-life experiences; recruiting the best talent in teachers and giving deserved value and salaries to those already in the profession.

Finally, three of the panel members being graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Locke, Mason and Harris – circled the discussion to the role of HBCUs in enhancing public schools and education. In addition to preparing teachers through departments of education, they suggested HBCUs would undertake a role to assess what is missing in public education today. 

Also, they suggested HBCUs should become more of a partner in the community, getting involved, for example,  in holding classes and programs for parents to help them in keeping their children engaged in learning.

In sharing his insight for planning the forum, McDonnell said, “I believe people will learn the important lessons of history, understand the progress and challenges of the last 70 years in making the ruling a reality, and address the all important question of what next for all of us to educate all of our children better to keep the country, strong and united.”

Hide picture