Civil rights in the United States have seen many changes in the last half-century. As part of Black Emphasis Month and the University Lecture Series, political analyst Juan Williams will lecture Saturday on the progression of civil rights since the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment on the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954.
The lecture is co-sponsored by the Black Emphasis Month Committee and the USF chapter of Amnesty International.
Rodrick Colbert, chairman of the Black Emphasis Month Committee, said that Williams’ experience in the field makes him the perfect person to lecture on the civil rights movement.
“This (year) being the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, we invited him to talk about 50 years of civil rights,” Colbert said.
The case was brought to the Supreme Court by the family of Linda Brown, who had to walk a mile to her all-black elementary school in Topeka, Kan., when there was an all-white elementary school only seven blocks from her home. The milestone decision set the doctrine of “separate but equal” in place, since the Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896 made it impossible to implement when dealing with educational systems. Prior to the decision, 21 states had laws on the books segregating schools.
A veteran journalist, Williams contributed to the Washington Post for over two decades as a columnist, editorial writer and White House reporter. He serves as a senior correspondent for National Public Radio and as a political analyst for the Fox News Network. Williams has also written articles for numerous magazines, including Ebony, The New Republic, Newsweek and Fortune.
In addition to his journalistic work, Williams also wrote a biography of Thurgood Marshall titled American Revolutionary, which was reissued this year commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Marshall was lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the historic case, and was later the first black Supreme Court Justice. He also penned the non-fiction best-seller Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965.
“Williams is well researched in the field of civil rights,” Colbert said.Will Hobson, president of USF chapter of Amnesty International, said he holds Williams in high esteem.
“(Williams) can give extensive historical perspective on civil rights, but will add modern touches as well,” Hobson said.
The lecture will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom. The event is open to the public, with a book signing to follow.