From WILL - Community Productions -

2004: In The Wake of Brown: Stories Of Integration And Struggle

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(Duration: 53:02)

Linda Brown Smith

Linda Brown Smith, 9, is shown in this 1952 photo. Smith was a 3rd grader when her father started a class-action suit in 1951 of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., which led to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 landmark decision against school segregation. (AP Photo)

In a radio documentary approximately 60 Urbana University High School subfreshmen looked at how African Americans in central Illinois combated racism in their schools and communities after the Brown v. Board of Education court decision.

In the Wake of Brown: Stories of Integration and Struggle features the stories of nine residents: Hattie Paulk, Willetta and Carletta Donaldson, Jan Carter Black, Clarence Shelley, Nathaniel Banks, Chumar Williams, Lucretia Williams and Donald Robert Pearson Sr. Uni High teacher history Bill Sutton provides background.

Student producer Kinzie Cornell, a senior at Uni, said she had studied racial discrimination in school and thought she understood it pretty well. “But it was amazing to hear the personal stories of these people and what they faced,” she said. “We learned a lot about the kinds of discrimination that still exist today.” The students interviewed one of their fellow students, Chumar Williams, who shared stories about discrimination he’s experienced as an African American.

WILL-AM’s Dave Dickey, who worked with the students on the project, said the documentary shows that despite all the progress made toward equality for African Americans, a lot is left to do. “A lot of discrimination has moved underground. It’s more subtle, but it’s just as hateful and devastating,” said Dave. Stories from the 1950s are heart wrenching, but stories from today are equally as moving, he said. “It’s not institutional discrimination now. It’s individuals discriminating against each other,” he said.

Participating students, who did everything from technical aspects of the recording, to developing questions for interviews, to researching history, were history students of Uni High teacher Jenny Yi. Executive producer for the program was Kate Peisker. Along with Cornell, producers were Amelia Breault and Bethany Hutchens.