DURHAM, N.C. — Can you imagine a time when black and white classmates did not walk the school hall together? Schools were segregated until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. As the 50th anniversary approaches, North Carolina Central University recently held a panel discussion to reflect back and project forward.
"It was a major effort by the Supreme Court to force America to look at issues of segregation," said Julius Chambers, a former chancellor of N.C. Central.
Chambers, who is also an attorney and was involved in a 1971 court decision that became the catalyst for busing programs throughout the nation, said he does not think equity in education has been completed.
"We have hundreds of minority children and poor children who are not getting the kind of education they need in order to be competitive," he said. "We have some major problems that I think are largely attributable to what we failed to do in education."
But, there have been successes such as the N.C. Central Law School.
"We started here in 1939 as an alternative to allowing African-Americans to go to the white schools. The white schools did not want us there," said Irving Joyner, of the North Carolina Central Law School.
The law school churned out graduates who fought for equality in education.
"All of them were part of the vanguard that attempted to get into [the University of North] Carolina and were successful in integrating that law school," Joyner said.
As prominent as the law school has become, it is still small. A major construction project is under way, so that they can increase enrollment.
"We have about 350 students now. We want to increase that to around 750 to 800 students," he said.
Joyner hopes other students will follow in the footsteps of those before them who fought for equality in education.