Thinking About Brown

Moravian joined a nationwide observance of the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision, handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954, by joining with Good Schools Pennsylvania, a public advocacy group, to produce three programs about the landmark decision.

The first, in March, was a group reading of materials (segregation laws, speeches by civil rights leaders) that led up to the Brown case, as well as the decision (written by Chief Justice Earl Warren) itself. A panel discussion with area educators followed in April.

On May 17, the 50th anniversary to the day of the Brown decision, the College and Seminary were part of a cross-country reading of Now Let Me Fly, a play by Marcia Cebulska written for the golden observance. Moravian was one of just two institutions to participate in Pennsylvania; the other was the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Our reading took place in Grace Deliverance Baptist Church and was coordinated by Sharon A. Brown, director of institutional diversity and multicultural affairs. James Johnson, visiting assistant professor of history, played Thurgood Marshall. Judith Green, assistant director of publications, served as narrator and created the program. The church’s choir provided music, as did Moravian Theological Seminary student Debra Hepburn, who sang “Go Down, Moses,” and “Motherless Child.”

Other readers included Dale Lagler ’77, a quality control auditor with Kraft Foods, and Alvie C. Fennell Sr. (M.B.A. ’92), a supervisor at Pennsylvania Power and Light.

Three ministers, also in the cast, were members of the Seminary’s Urban Ministry project for pastors of small independent churches: Rev. Melvin Tatem and Rev. Sterling McNair of Grace Deliverance, reading several parts, and Rev. Philip Davis of Shiloh Baptist Church, playing Charles Hamilton Houston, dean of Howard University’s law school and mentor of Thurgood Marshall. Just to complete the Moravian roll call, McNair’s wife, Gloria, a member of the choir and a supervisor with Agere Systems, received her M.B.A. from the College in 1994.