May 11, 2010
The National Park Service has appointed Cheryl M. Brown Henderson, founder and long-time President and Chief Executive Officer of the non-profit Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, as the next Superintendent of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas. She replaces Dennis A. Vasquez, who served as Superintendent for 5 years before transferring to Washington, D.C., in August 2009. Brown Henderson’s tenure at the park begins June 6, 2010.
“Cheryl Brown Henderson was instrumental in developing the concept of and the actual designation of the Monroe Elementary School as the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, and her strong communication skills and proven ability to work with a wide variety of constituency groups affiliated with the Brown story will be great assets at the site,” said Ernest Quintana, the National Park Service’s director for the 13-state Midwest Region. “She has an enviable record of building community support for this park at the local, regional, and national levels, and understands the importance of engaging all stakeholders,” he added.
Brown Henderson said of this new opportunity, “Because Brown v. Board of Education is a living decision that continues to influence how we live in a diverse society, I look forward to creating greater awareness of this historic site and to expanding our educational outreach. Our story is taught in classrooms from elementary school to graduate school.”
In 1972, Brown Henderson began her professional career as a 6th Grade Classroom Teacher with the Topeka Public Schools. Her first teaching assignment was at Monroe Elementary School, now preserved as the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. She also taught 6th grade at Avondale East Elementary School before becoming a Guidance Counselor and Parent Educator for the school system in 1976.
From 1979 to 1994, Brown Henderson served as an Educational Program Specialist for the Kansas Department of Education. She assumed responsibility for coordinating gender equity programs across the State at the secondary, post secondary, and graduate levels, which included administering Federal funds to promote the enrollment of women and girls in programs not considered traditional for female students. Brown Henderson also developed programs to better acquaint educators and educational administrators with the legal and social implications of working to insure women and girls access to vocational training opportunities previously provided only to male students. She also planned and sponsored statewide educational conferences and conducted presentations nationally on various aspects of vocational education.
Brown Henderson founded the principal partner for the park, The Brown Foundation, in October 1988 to further the tenants of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by initiating, implementing, and supporting educational programs that invest in children, enhance multi-cultural understanding, increase literacy among children from low-income communities, increase the pool of minority teachers for classrooms across the nation, develop curriculum resources to enhance the teaching of Brown v. Board of Education in the context of the Civil Rights Movement, produce exhibits and gather oral histories to illustrate the detailed history of Brown v. Board of Education in the context of the African American experience in the United States, and convene conferences and conduct presentations that foster the value and acceptance of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity.
Brown Henderson earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, with a minor in Mathematics, through Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. She went on to earn her Masters of Science in Guidance and Counseling from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas. Brown Henderson also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from Washburn University in Topeka.
Brown Henderson has received countless awards and recognition for her work to preserve the legacy of the Brown decision. Her articles and essays about the Brown decision have been published in several books. She has also written curriculum guides and has lectured in the classrooms on more than 200 university campuses and in 2001 delivered a talk about the Brown decision while traveling in South Africa.
As a member of the namesake family and President and CEO of The Brown Foundation, Brown Henderson served on and provided invaluable direction to the 2003/2004 Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Presidential Commission. She has served on numerous civic and philanthropic boards and foundations, as well as the boards of the Kansas State Historical Society and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Brown Henderson has also testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate on women’s issues and the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
Brown Henderson has been a guest at White House receptions and dinners on numerous occasions, honoring Dr. King and the Children of Civil Rights Movement (Jan. 1994); the 75th Anniversary, U.S. Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau (May 1995); the 49th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education (May 2003); the 40th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act (June 2004); African American History Month (Feb. 2005); and African American Gospel Music Month (June 2005).
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site was established by Congress on October 26, 1992, to commemorate the 1954 landmark Supreme Court decision that ended segregation in public schools. The site, which was dedicated on May 17, 2004, and opened to the public, interprets the integral role of the Brown v. Board of Education case in the Civil Rights Movement from Reconstruction to the present day.
Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Louisiana
October 26, 2010
On November 7, 2010, we will mark the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's presidential election by hosting a lecture and book signing. This event will feature Harvard University professor Dr. John Stauffer, the leading authority on anti-slavery and social protest movements. His book Giants: the Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln provides a compelling glimpse into the activist stance taken by both men in the cause of ending slavery. Stauffer describes them as the pre-eminent self-made men of their times, rejecting the status quo and embracing the new ideals of personal liberty.
Each man came to his mission of seeking to end slavery from unique and disparate vantage points. Douglas made a resolution in January of 1836 that he would be free from slavery by the end of the year, so he planned his escape. However, it would take two additional years for his dream to be realized. After escaping from slavery he eventually settled in Massachusetts under his new name of Frederick Douglass and went on to become internationally renowned for his eloquent truth about the need to secure liberty for all people. Lincoln first encountered what he called "the peculiar institution" of slavery when in 1828 while working as a boatman; he joined a flatboat crew headed for New Orleans with a cargo of farm produce. It was there in Louisiana that he witnessed firsthand the inhumanity and degradation of slavery. Shortly thereafter he began his journey to the pinnacle of public service when he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1834. Twenty-seven years later on November 6, 1861 he was elected president of the United States. By the time of his inauguration on March 4 of 1861 several southern states had seceded from the Union leading the way to the inevitable conflict that would become Civil War.
In the book Giants: the Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, professor Stauffer reveals the nature of their positions on ending slavery. Douglass saw the Civil War as an opportunity to end slavery and during the beginning stages of the war he chastised Lincoln for not embracing emancipation as a war aim. When in 1862 President Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, which amounted to an executive order to end slavery in any territory that was in rebellion against the government, Douglass began to admire his political skill. On January 1, 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Later that same year on November 19, President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. By that time Douglass applauded the president's resolve to lead the nation toward "a new birth of freedom."
Professor John Stauffer has authored eight books including The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race, which was published in 2001.
From November 10, 2010, until January 2, 2011, we will host the following exhibits about President Lincoln – Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Time, a Man for All Times, on loan from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and Lincoln in Kansas, on loan from the Kansas State Historical Society.
On an annual basis we partner with the Brown Foundation to sponsor special events and public programs. For our 2010-2011 program series we selected the theme Commemorating our Nation's Struggle for Freedom: from Civil War to Civil Rights, which borrows from the upcoming national observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. In 2011 the National Park Service will commemorate the sesquicentennial of America's Civil War using the theme "Civil War to Civil Rights." Planning is underway for educational initiatives, events, programs, exhibits and institutes that will focus on the period in our history that led to the conflict that would become Civil War. Additional focus will be placed on the historic continuum resulting in the modern Civil Rights Movement bolstered by the May 17, 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
For more information about the event with Dr. Stauffer or the special exhibits featuring Abraham Lincoln, please contact Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site at (785) 354-4273 or email by clicking here.
December 28, 2010
Cheryl Brown Henderson has decided to step down as Superintendent of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site -- effective December 31 -- and return to her leadership role with the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research. National Park Service (NPS) Midwest Regional Director Ernest Quintana stated, "We wish her well and look forward to continuing our work together to ensure that the legacy of Brown v. Board of Education is never forgotten. The search for a new superintendent will begin immediately."
"It was an honor to serve as Superintendent of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Sharing the stories of the people, places, and events that contributed to this landmark United States Supreme Court decision will continue to be my life's work," commented Brown Henderson. "I am stepping down to focus on working with those from Delaware, Kansas, Virginia, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C., who were part of Brown v. Board of Education and are still living, as well as the descendents of those who are deceased. With the passage of time it has become increasingly important to engage them in writing and lecturing about their lives in order to preserve the first person accounts of their unparalleled role in the history of our nation. The profound nature of what my family and all of the case participants represent, is a life affirming experience that will only come about once."
Brown Henderson added that working with Congress from 1990 to 1992, to develop a permanent commemorative site became a dream come true. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site was established by Congress on October 26, 1992, and commemorates the 1954 landmark United States Supreme Court decision that ended legal segregation in public schools. The site, which was dedicated on May 17, 2004, and opened to the public, interprets the integral role of the Brown v. Board of Education case in the Civil Rights Movement from Reconstruction to the present day.