Material for the play (based on historical truth and drawn from)
Words That Made the Difference is excerpted from the five cases that were compiled into the landmark case, known as Brown vs. Board of Education. As the transcripts were voluminous, it was impossible to include everything. The play was created by pouring through the transcripts, looking at the sections that could be used without changing the words, and building them around the characters whose testimonies were most meaningful. A critical piece what was omitted was the Doll Case, which was a major basis for understanding how inferiority and discrimination can have lifelong effects on individuals. It was critical to pass Brown v Board – the uncertainty of the effect of what even the portrayal of that scene might do to a young actor, caused it to be left out.
The three judges represented the three person judges in the five cases. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren and Thurgood Marshall serve as bookends in the history of Brown – their words, as with the transcripts were unchanged. However, Carter’s closing arguments, compelling after the Doll Case testimony were used and juxtaposed against the landmark decision of Earl Warren. The material used is as follows:
Transcript of original trial of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, June 25, 1951
OLIVER BROWN, MRS. RICHARD LAWTON, MRS. SADIE EMMANUEL, ET AL APPELLANTS, vs. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF TOPEKA, SHAWNEE. CTY, KANSAS, ET AL IN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
Three judge panel
Denied: Although nine findings indicate that the law as it stood, was harmful to the education of Topeka’s Black children, Judge Huxman upholds the Topeka Board’s policy based on Plessy.
Appeal FROM THE US DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
APPEAL SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES dated Filed Nov 1951
Brown vs. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (USSC+)
Argued December 9, 1952
Re-argued December, 1952
Transcript of Thurgood Marshall’s re-argument for the plaintiffs in Briggs v. Elliott
Reargued December 8, 1953
Thurgood Marshall’s argument for the plaintiffs of the collective cases of Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court, December 1953
Decided May 17, 1954
Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren’s final opinion in the collective cases of Brown v Board of Education overturning Plessy v. Ferguson and ending segregation, May 17, 1954
This play is dedicated to the memory of my parents, Darline Stella Bell Maxwell, and Washington Maxwell, who were born in 1930 in Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas, respectively, and for whom ‘Brown’ was a victory, because it set a precedent for other civil rights. Thank you, for holding the world for me – as one without limits.
The play is dedicated to those allies for equity, equality and fairness – the witnesses and plaintiffs, who courageously faced opposition from others, and the Supreme Court Justices, who provided a model of leading with integrity and justice for all.
-Dr Cindy Acker, Ed.D.
LINK TO ALAMEDA PRESS RELEASE FOR June 19th presentation