Legal Services News
Then and Now: Resistance to Brown v. Board of Education
The 1954 landmark Brown decision ended de jure segregation in public schools. Regrettably, it also ended the careers of a generation of highly educated and effective Black teachers and administrators. “It represented the most significant brain drain from the US public education system that the nation has ever seen. It was so pervasive and destabilizing that, even a half-century later, the nation’s public schools still have not recovered.” Leslie T. Fenwick, Jim Crow’s Pink Slip: The Untold Story of Black Principal and Teacher Leadership, xxiii, Harvard Ed. Press (2022). What does it mean for American public schooling to have lost these highly educated Black professionals? What could these remarkable professionals have done with American public schools if they had not been thwarted at every turn? Answers may prove elusive. What is certain is the legacy we must live with and must overcome.
Difficult as it may be to untangle the damage done since 1954, we do know that the purge of exceptional Black educators is ongoing today. GAE has filed three lawsuits in the past several years on behalf of three exemplary Black professional educators: Dr. Lana Foster (Echols County), Dr. Sherilonda Green (Charlton County, and Dr. Leamon Madison (Colquitt County).
Case #1. Dr. Lana Foster, including her father, mother, and daughter, was one of the very few African Americans ever hired by Echols County in over 100 years. GAE was able to prove that Dr. Foster’s termination was a pretext for racial discrimination. The EEOC assisted GAE in negotiating a settlement agreement requiring Echols County to hire minority educators. We are continuing to monitor compliance with the settlement agreement. Read the settlement agreement.
Case #2. Although Charlton County Schools invested in Dr. Sherilonda Green to be a superintendent, she was not granted an interview when the position became open. The lawsuit details a very troubling history of discrimination designed to impede/frustrate Dr. Green’s career combined with discrimination against African Americans generally in the school system. When asked under oath whether he was troubled by the fact that Charlton Schools has never hired a Black superintendent in over 100 years, the school board chairperson replied, “It’s just the fact that that’s the way it is.” Read the Judge’s Order.
Case #3. In the wake of the George Floyd murder, Dr. Leamon Madison, principal at Cox Elementary, sent an email to staff asking for empathy in meeting the emotional needs of their young students. Dr. Madison was summoned to meet with the superintendent to discuss his email. Upon return to Cox Elementary, a white lady teacher told Dr. Madison, “We are going to lynch you.” Three days later, Dr. Madison lost his job. Read the complaint.