Daughter of Oliver Brown - Cheryl Brown Henderson
Cheryl is one of the three daughters of the late Rev. Oliver L. Brown, who along with twelve other parents led by the NAACP, filed suit against the local Board of Education on behalf of their children. Upon appeal to the United States Supreme Court the Topeka case became the lead case among five legal challenges from under consideration by the court. Oliver Brown died in 1961 before knowing the impact of this landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, which bears his name – Oliver L. Brown et. al. vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, et. al.
Cheryl has been a university guest lecturer, a school teacher and guidance counselor, a state educational administrator, a federal legislative advocate, and is President of The Brown Foundation. She has authored publications and essays about Brown v. Board of Education and has been a member of numerous professional and civic organizations, and presently serves on several local, state and national boards. She is past chair of Women Work, a national network that represented some 15 million women nationwide who were seeking career assistance and employment in non-traditional fields.
In 1988 along with her co-worker, Jerry Jones, Cheryl established The Brown Foundation. In 1990 the Foundation worked with the United States Congress to develop legislation, resulting in the establishment of the Brown v. Board of Education National Park. The Park opened in 2004 in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision. It is located in Topeka at the site of one of the four formerly segregated African American schools. This was also the elementary school attended by their mother, two of the Brown sisters, Linda and Terry, their children, and prior to the school’s closing in 1975, Cheryl began her teaching career there in 1972.
Cheryl has extensive public speaking experience, which includes lectures on more than 300 college campuses and for various national organizations and community groups. Cheryl has received numerous awards in recognition of the Brown decision and has appeared in televised and newspaper interviews about this historic case. You can read more about Cheryl below.
Cheryl Brown Henderson
One of the three daughters of the late Rev. Oliver L. Brown who in the fall of 1950 along with 12 other parents, led by attorneys for the NAACP, filed suit on behalf of their children against the local Board of Education. Their case joined with cases from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C. on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and on May 17, 1954, became known as the landmark decision; Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. This case was legally named for Oliver Brown, i.e., Oliver L. Brown et. al. vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, KS et. al. Brown died in 1961 before knowing the impact this case would have on the nation.
Cheryl is the Founding President of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, and owner of Brown & Associates, educational consulting firm. She has extensive background in education, business and civic leadership, having served on and chaired various local, state and national Boards. In addition she has two decades of experience in political advocacy, public policy implementation, and federal legislative development.
Her education includes a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education, Minor in Mathematics from Baker University, Baldwin City, Kansas, a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling from Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Washburn University. She is the recipient of various awards and recognition for work in education and community service; presentations at numerous conferences, conventions and universities; and for her work with Congress and the National Park Service to preserve sites associated with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling of 1954.
In 1988 she founded the Brown Foundation. Since its establishment, the Foundation has provided scholarships to more than 100 minority students, presented awards to local, state and national leaders, established libraries for children in low income communities, developed curriculum on Brown for educators across the country, created traveling exhibits on and a web site on Brown, and sponsored programs on diversity and educational issues, for thousands of people. In 1990, under her leadership the Foundation successfully worked with the U.S. Congress to establish the Brown v Board of Education National Park in Topeka, which opened in May of 2004. In 2001 under her leadership the Foundation successfully worked with the U.S. Congress to establish the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Presidential Commission, which served to provide a Federal presence in the 2004 anniversary of the Brown decision.
She has been invited to the White House on seven occasions - In January 1994, May 1995, May 2003, June 2004, February 2005, June 2005, and May 2014, she was one of a group of individuals invited to receptions and dinner at the White House, (listed chronologically) in honor of Dr. King and the Children of Civil Rights Movement, the 75th Anniversary, U.S. Department of Labor, Women's Bureau, 49th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act., African American History Month, African American Gospel Music Month, and teh 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.
- Brown v. Board of Education 62 and Counting: Marching Back to the Future, Journal article co-authored with Steven M. Brown, PhD, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy, The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. (for 2016 publication)
- The Pursuit of Racial and Ethnic Equality in American Public Schools: Mendez, Brown, and Beyond, Essay for anthology, University of Michigan Press, 2014
- “Esther Swirk Brown”, Chapter 3, The Kansas City Spirit, Stories of Service Above Self, Kansas City Star Books, 2012
- “As I See It” column, Kansas City Star, July 9, 2008.
- “Brown v. Board of Education: The Struggle for Equal Rights”, Teachers Guide, National Park Service, 2004.
- “Brown v. Board at 50: A Personal Perspective, The College Board Review, Volume 200, Fall 2003.
- “Lucinda Todd and the Invisible Petitioners of Brown v. Board of Education”, African American Women Confront the West, anthology, Oklahoma University Press, 2003
- “The Legacy of Brown Forty-Six Years Later”, Washburn University Law Journal, Volume 40, Number 1, 2000.
- Brown v. The Board of Education: In Pursuit of Freedom and Equality, Teachers Guide, Brown Foundation, 1997.
- Forty Years After the Brown Decision: Implications, Perspectives and Future Directions, Readings on Equal Education, Vol. 13, spring 1997.
- Guest Editor, CRM Cultural Resource Magazine of the National Park Service Volume 19, Number 2, winter 1996.
- "The Brown Foundation Story: Preserving Public History," CRM Cultural Resource Magazine of the National Park Service, Volume 19, Number 2, winter 1996.
- "Schoolhouse Restoration", Preserving Our Recent Past, Historic Preservation Education Foundation Washington, DC, 1995.
- "Landmark Decision - Remembering the Struggle for Equal Education,” Land and People, The Trust for Public Lands, Volume 6, Number 1, spring 1994.
HONORS AND AWARDS
On May 17, 2004, served as principal greeter and introduced President Bush to the 5000 plus people gathered for the grand opening of Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kansas.
- In 2015, Awards for 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board, University of Texas, Indiana Tech School of Law, Springfield Missouri Public Library, Chicago Public Schools University of Washington, Alabama State University.
- In 2014, community recognition, Topeka Chapter of Links and New Mt. Zion Baptist
- In 2013, New Horizons Award, Scholarship benefit, Ft. Worth, TX
- In 2012, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Anniversary Award, Junction City, Kansas
- In 2010, inducted into the Mid-American Education Hall of Fame
- In 2004, named the Topeka Capitol Journal “Kansan of the Year”.
- In 2004, featured as the cover story in Kansas Hers Magazine.
- In 2004, a guest speaker at AOL Time Warner reception for 40th anniversary of Brown.
- In 2003, featured in the national publication, More Magazine.
- In 2003, featured in a Court TV public service announcement about Brown.
- In June 1996, became the first African American woman from Kansas to run for the U. S. House of Representatives.
- In 1994, One of four named “Kansan of the Year”.
- Named in 1991 one of the 100 most influential people in Topeka
- National Education Association, Friend of Education Award
- National Alliance of Black School Educators’ Life Time Achievement Award
- Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund Award of Excellence
- Fight for Justice Award, Southern University Law Center
- Mayor’s Award for serving as Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Diversity Council
- Spirit of Amelia Earhart Role Model Award, presented by the Amelia Earhart Museum
- Multimedia Cable and Capitol Federal Savings Capitol Citizen Award
- Convention and Visitors Bureau Spirit of Topeka Award
- Who’s Who Among African Americans
- Women of Distinction Award - Girl Scouts
- Women in U.S. Vocational Education Administration
- Outstanding Young Women of America
- Who's Who in the Midwest
- Distinguished Alumni Citation, Baker University
- Numerous awards for work and presentations on women's issues
- Various honors and proclamations for participation in work to preserve the history of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education from many states including New York, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Nebraska, Washington.
STATE AND NATIONAL ACTIVITIES
- Former member of Congresswoman Nancy Boyda’s Military Academy Review Board.
- Boards Memberships include Kansas State Historical Society, University of Kansas Libraries Advocacy Board, Washburn University Education Department Advisory Council, Literacy Kansas City and University of Missouri at Kansas City Women’s Center, Kansas City Public Library Foundation Board of Trustees. In 2001 traveled to South Africa on behalf of the Trust for Historic Preservation.
- Extensive public speaking experience which includes university guest lectures at over 300 universities including Harvard University Law School and Yale University Law School, with primary focus on education and contemporary civil rights issues.
- 1982 to 1993 Board member of Women Work: the National Network for Women's Employment.
- 1990 to 1992 Chaired Women Work the National Network for Women's Employment, representing 15 million women nationwide. Office based in Washington, D.C. Provided testimony before both the U.S. House and Senate on Women's issues and Brown v Board of Education.
- Media interview experience includes C-Span, BBC Radio, PBS-NewsHour, CNN, MSNBC, CBS News, NBC News, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and 14 other major TV and radio broadcasts and international newspapers.