By Meg Brinckman

On April 20, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly Youth Activities Task Force and the Amidon Bowen fourth grades hosted the dedication of a Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall Exhibit to be housed in the Amidon-Bowen Library.

Heather Evans, a fourth grader, was Mistress of Ceremonies.  After welcoming remarks by Principal Izabela Miller, SWNA Youth Task Force Co-Chair Thelma Jones, read a congratulatory letter from Mrs. Thurgood “Cissy” Marshall to the group.  Justice and Mrs. Marshall were residents of Southwest for many years.

Rick Bardach, Interim Chair of the SWNA Youth Activities Task Force, and Daryl Lucas, President of the World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund Staff African American Association, offered comments and congratulations.

Eric Gonzales, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Education Policy Advocate, wrote, “This exhibit is a timely reminder that despite notable progress, the vision of educational equality advanced by Justice Marshall’s work is far from complete.”

The program included a keynote address by Christine Ingram, Legal Fellow with the  NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who was introduced by fourth grader Eugene O’Carroll.   Ms. Ingram helped the children understand the importance of the landmark case, Brown v Board of Education in 1954.  Their classrooms would be very different from today, both in who could go to school, and the education they would receive.

Taije Chambliss and Heather Evans read the Langston Hughes poems, “Words Like Freedom” and “I Dream of a World.”  Jessica Zeiler, Amidon-Bowen ES Librarian, summed up the importance of today’s youth understanding the role Southwest residents has had in the shaping of our history.

Joy Austin, Executive Director of the Washington Humanities Council, and the Southwest Library, provided support.  LaTonya Sellers, Assistant Secretary, World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund Staff African American Association made invaluable contributions to the program. Special thanks go to Thelma Jones, Program Director and Vice Chair, SWNA YATF, who has spearheaded the efforts to keep the contributions of Thurgood Marshall before the residents of Southwest and the city at large.   A reception prepared by World Bank Staff followed.

The exhibit will remain on permanent display in the Amidon-Bowen Library.  Members of the public may visit during normal school hours after signing in at the school entrance.

From the new exhibit: Thurgood Marshall reads to his son Thurgood, Jr.  Reading was always an important activity in the Marshall household.

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