Sen. Coons leads push to comemorate Delaware ties to Brown v. Board of Education decision | Delaware First Media
Delaware Public Media

Sen. Coons leads push to comemorate Delaware ties to Brown v. Board of Education decision

Sep 17, 2020

Sen. Chris Coons and South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn introduced legislation to commemorate historic sites connected to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

The legislation would expand the Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas and designate National Park Service Affiliated Areas in other states, including Delaware.

Three sites in Delaware will be included, Old Claymont High School in Claymont, Howard High School in Wilmington, and Hockessin School #107c in Hockessin.

The rest of Delaware’s Congressional delegation signed on as cosponsors and Sen. Chris Coons says it’s important to remember these schools’ contribution to history.

"If we don't save these historic facilities the schools in which these struggles happened, and if we don't teach we won't know our history and we won't make progress going forward."

Coons explains how Delaware’s involvement in the landmark decision striking down separate-but-equal education started.

"There were two cases: Belton vs. Gebhart which involves the desegregation of the Claymont High School and Bulah vs. Gebhart," Coons said.

Coons adds that second case started with a mother advocating for her daughter to attorney Louis L. Redding, Jr.

"She reached out to him and said that the bus going by our home to take kids in Hockessin to the white school, why can't they just stop and pick up my daughter and make it possible for her to go more easily to the so-called colored school and lawyer Redding retorted I'm not going to fight for her to get just a seat on the bus, I'm going to fight for her to get a better school," said Coons.

The two cases were combined and then became part of the Brown v Board of Education case and ruling.

South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn says these cases were joined by others. 

"Many people don't know that the Brown's case was one of five cases that went to the Supreme Court, and they all got lumped into one," said Clyburn.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation helped craft the legislation to help more fully tell the Brown v Board of Education story.