On the 10th day of Black history month, the NAACP DeKalb County Branch hosted a Black History Program at Rainbow Park Baptist Church in Decatur to honor and recognize the accomplishments of African Americans. This year the branch commemorates the 70th year of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The theme of the program looked at the Brown decision from Segregation to Integration to Resegregation. In May of 1954, the United States Supreme Court delivered a unanimous ruling that state-sanctioned segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th amendment and was therefore unconstitutional. The Brown ruling proved to be the turning point that led to the unraveling of Jim Crow laws and paved the way for the passage of the civil rights act of 1964.
Politicians, educators, activists and community members were in attendance. The program showcased two videos of the desegregation process. One of the videos was about students from Georgia and their experiences during the desegregation process. Ms. D.E Smith, who served as MC shared a brief history on the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. And panel discussion was held with educators to assess the current state of education in the county. The educators on the panel were Mrs. Nakia Hill, Ms. Deidre Wright and Mr. Quentin Fretwell, Ph.D. The panel moderator was Ms. Charlene Bowden.
The moderator asked a question to reflect on segregated schools that pertain to resources, opportunities and the impact on those communities. Ms. Deidra Wright answered and said in part “The issue was resources, equity, and having the access to do the things we needed to do.” When schools were segregated in the first half of the century, black schools didn’t have the same resources as the white schools. For example, the schools for whites had up to date textbooks whereas the schools for blacks had out of date textbooks that had pages ripped out of them. The schools were separate and not equal, In the 1950s only 1 in 10 African Americans graduated from high school. Black Adults in the south such as Georgia and Mississippi only had an average of a 5th grade education. Black teachers were only paid a fraction of their white counterparts.
At the end of a great discussion with the panelist and after another selection by Mr. Philip Holly, Mr. Christian Hill introduced the speaker of the day Mr. Jayden Williams who’s the president of the Georgia NAACP Youth and College division. Mr. Williams is a student at Clark Atlanta University. He began his activism journey at just 13-years-old. Jayden is also the youngest planning commissioner in the state of Georgia. Mr. Williams’ subject for the occasion was “Thriving Together.” In his speech, he encouraged listeners to “Stand on business.” He also told listeners “As we move forward in 2024, it is imperative that we reclaim and preserve our culture. You can hear the rebroadcast of the event here..