The Nashville Branch of the NAACP hosted a press conference at the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Education on May 16 at 3 pm. Members of the Nashville School Board, State Rep. Harold Love, and members of the Nashville NAACP spoke on ‘Brown v Board of Education,’ which declared state laws establishing separate public schools for Black and White students were unconstitutional. This 1954 ruling was a major victory for the civil rights movement—and the NAACP, which brought the case through lead attorney Thurgood Marshall who later became the first Black Supreme Court Justice.
Charles R. Smith, U. S. Army, colonel (ret.) and Nashville Branch member said: “I was a junior then. I remember a teacher explaining how important it was. We still kept getting used football uniforms, books, and desks from White schools and in my senior year a new Black high school was built. But I remember coming home to Camden, South Carolina on leave from the Army and my sister would say ‘Let’s get lunch at Rose’s.’ My first thought was that is asking for trouble. But my sister was right—things changed”
Will Pinkston, school board member, spoke about the constituency of the school system and inclusiveness.
School board member Anna Shepard presented a Resolution on ‘Brown v Board of Education’ written by the board, paving the way for integration. Board member Dr. Jo Ann Brannon participated.
Nashville Branch Education Committee Vice-Chair Preston Stewart stressed the importance of educating students to understand what job they will work and how they will earn a living.
“We need to teach students that what they learn with determine what they earn,” Stewart said.
Erica Lanier, chair of the NAACP Education Committee was central to organizing the event. Ms. Sydney Pritchard, president of the Nashville Youth Council spoke on education.
Nashville NAACP Branch President John Arradondo said: “Since schools are re-segregating, racially and economically, our work to provide a high quality public education for every child must continue. Our efforts must redouble. We will work with any willing public official to improve our schools.”
Tosha Thompson and Bruce Wood were active organizers.