Neil Putnam, a board member of Mitchell School District #17 in South Dakota, reflected on this month’s 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision in his local newspaper, the Daily Republic. Putnam also is a Western Regional Director for the National School Boards Association’s board of directors.
Growing up in South Dakota, Putnam noted that he was not exposed to the inequities faced by the students involved in the Brown lawsuit. So he asked two fellow school board members from Kansas and Mississippi to tell about their firsthand experiences as students after the landmark ruling, and how it has impacted their work with their school districts.
Putnam wrote, “Perhaps it is coincidence that three school board members whose families come from agrarian beginnings — Kansas exodusters, Mississippi sharecroppers and Dakota homesteaders — would eventually be presidents of our state school board associations and are having a conversation about the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. I rather think that is what is the legacy of Brown: all board members, educators, parents and citizens working together to insure all students regardless of abilities, circumstances and means can attend any public school. Now, 30 years later from the time I was handed a diploma, I am recognizing those who toiled and sacrificed for my education, but moreover commemorating those who fought for the right I took for granted.”
Read more in the Daily Republic.