Local exhibit brings to life the fight for equal rights

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo – February is Black History Month, and an exhibit at Drury University is highlighting the fight for equal rights.

The Brown v. Board of Education exhibit showcases the moments that led up to, during, and after the Supreme Court decision to desegregate schools

Rosalyn Thomas, the Diversity Coordinator at Drury, was crucial to bringing the exhibit to Springfield.

She shares why this court case broke open civil rights.

“I think this case, probably, was the one case that really broke open our civil rights because children could not go to the school that was closet to them. They had to walk several miles to get to a school,” says Thomas.

She says this case is important because it lets people know that education is essential and that children should be able to go to any school near them.

The exhibit consists of 12 posters with pictures, texts, and quotes telling the story of Brown v. Board of Education.

Thomas says she remembers having to go to an all-black school in Mississippi during this time.

“As a child myself growing up, I could not go to the school that was closest to me. It was necessary to walk or ride a bus several miles away from where I could’ve gone right down the hill, as we’d say,” says Thomas.

She says that it was okay going to an all-black school and that they didn’t see anything different. It wasn’t until the district integrated when they saw the differences.

“My school district was not integrated until about 1970. So, when you look at 1954 and 1970, it’s different. We realized all the things we didn’t have. I think the first week we were in our new school, we spent more time trying to get the lockers open because we did not have lockers at our old high school,” says Thomas.

As an instructor, she tries to teach children to understand where America was to where America is now.

“Let’s take advantage of everything that there is for you to do rather than doing those things that would complicate your educational life,” she says.

“If our children don’t know our history, then they have no idea of the fight that occurred in order to get them where they are.”

Jacqueline Tygart, Associate Librarian for Art, Architecture, and Behavioral Sciences, says the exhibit is open to the public and schools K-12.

Both say seeing a live exhibit as opposed to reading the facts on your phone has more impact.

“You see it larger; you can as a group talk about it. It can become a real learning experience,” says Tygart.

“I would encourage everybody here in Springfield and the Drury community to come by and actually read this because it takes you back to a time that so many of us are not even aware of, especially our children,” says Thomas.

You can visit the exhibit in the Olin Library all month.

The exhibit is open at these times:

  • Monday through Thursday – 7:45 a.m. to midnight
  • Friday – 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday – 1 p.m. to midnight

The exhibit is a resource that the Brown Foundation uses to educate those on the history of the court case. For more on the foundation, click here.

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