U.S. Civil Rights Commission chairperson to speak at TTU on Oct. 21

Mary Frances Berry was a high school student in Nashville in 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racially segregated schools in the Brown vs. Board of Education decision.

Now she’s chairperson of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and she will present a lecture in Tennessee Tech University’s Derryberry Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the landmark ruling.

Highlighting the weaknesses, as well as the strengths, of the decision, Berry has said “desegregation foundered on the busing crisis and on housing segregation.”

“Everybody knows — including me — that until you get housing desegregation, unless you use busing, you can’t desegregate the schools. You just can’t do it,” she said.

Berry has served for two decades on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and was selected as one of “America’s Women of the Century” by the Women’s Hall of Fame.

She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Howard University in Washington, D.C., a doctorate in history from the University of Michigan and the juris doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School. She is a member of the bar in the District of Columbia.

She has received 30 honorary doctoral degrees, been granted numerous awards for her public service and scholarship and held faculty appointments at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Central Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, the University of Maryland at College Park, the University of Michigan, and Howard University.

Berry is the author of seven books, including Long Memory: The Black Experience in America, The Politics of Parenthood: Child Care, Women’s Rights and the Myth of the Good Mother and Black Resistance/White Law: A History of Constitutional Racism in America.

Her presentation at TTU is being held in conjunction with the Ohio Valley History Conference, which runs Oct. 21 - 23. A Center Stage event, the talk is free and open to the public.

Apply Now