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Life before Brown--and after.

I am a black man who was born, raised, educated in the Deep South during the era of "separate but equal"--a phenomenon that can best be described as a hoax. When I started school in 1948 in segregated Bay Minette, Alabama, my first year was spent at Pine Grove Grammar School, a two-room building that held 20 students.

I didn't know at the time that my used textbooks were castoffs and that our science and athletic equipment represented the hand-me-downs from white schools in the district. It never dawned on me that per-pupil expenditures for black students were only a small percentage of that spent for whites.

Those less-than-ideal conditions did not hinder significant numbers of us black students from continuing on to success. Alabama A&M, a historically black college near Huntsville, Alabama, was eventually to play a critical role in my life. The "college on the hill" became for me what other historically black institutions are to so many black Americans--a stepping stone to the future. Armed with my baccalaureate degree from Alabama A&M in 1964, I began a career that has taken me from the private sector to government and on to entrepreneurship, but I have almost always worked in education related endeavors.

I share my life experiences to put the times in perspective. While Brown v. Board of Education was a precedent-setting decision and is viewed as a turning point in U.S. social history, the real change took place on many fronts, hard won by many people. And it is only fitting that the first book published bearing the Black Issues imprint should commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown decision. The editors of Black Issues In Higher Education, the 20-year-old big sister publication to five-year-old Black Issues Book Review, have compiled The Unfinished Agenda of Brown v. Board of Education (John Wiley & Sons, May 2004, $24.95, ISBN 0-471-64926-0), with an introduction and commentary by Tavis Smiley. In its concise 200 pages, readers will find an overview that is as accessible as it is comprehensive and authoritative.

BIBR is pleased to present an excerpt from our book as this month's cover story and to feature Tavis Smiley on our cover. Also for this issue, Smiley interviewed Elaine R. Jones, who is stepping down as the leader of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund after 32 post-Brown years with the organization known for developing the legal strategy for winning the Brown case. You will also find additional guides to the best of many other books examining the legacy of Brown and of the Civil Rights Movement in general. And this also being the season of BookExpo America, we include a special report on the unprecedented activities of African American industry professionals at the forthcoming convention in Chicago. We also bring you face to face with a black author whose notoriety troubles many of us, Jayson Blain who says he is trying to find his way back from the disgrace he brought on himself at The New York Times last year. Finally, as in every issue of BIBR, there are our reviews and commentary on new fiction, biography, poetry, and many other genres, including books for young readers. Observe how far we've come since Brown, and know we must recommit ourselves to forging a future filled with even more equality, opportunity and fulfillment.
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Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:from the editor-in-chief
Author:Cox, William E.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 1, 2004
Words:560
Previous Article:Flying off the shelves.
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