Ethnography of the Brown v Board Jubilee Commemoration

Dublin Core


Ethnography of the Brown v Board Jubilee Commemoration


Schools, Ethnography of the University


The Brown v. Board of Education Jubilee Commemoration is a year-long, multi-faceted, and very ambitious project that bears the distinctive stamp of Chancellor Nancy Cantor’s interest in diversity in higher education. It is not an exaggeration to say that there is hardly a unit at UIUC that has not been touched by, or taken an active hand in the Brown Commemoration. The Ethnography of the University (EOTU) is pleased to take on the Ethnography of the Brown Commemoration (EBC) knowing that the commemoration—its particular shape and life on our campus—offers a window on the university’s diverse understanding of itself at this important historical juncture. Currently there are four paid undergraduate researchers attending Brown Commemoration events, interviewing participants, and writing up field notes that will be used next summer as undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty pull together a lengthy document that assesses the commemoration’s accomplishments.

Although the Brown Commemoration has a distinct origin—namely, the recommendation of a Diversity Committee that resulted in Chancellor Cantor’s appointment of a Brown Commemoration Planning Committee—by today the commemoration is a very dispersed venture that has been realized by many units, constituencies, and individuals. For example, when the Housing Division engaged the Brown Commemoration, it naturally worked through its own chain of command, down to the resident directors, and from them to the resident assistants, and so on. There is, then, neither a single Brown Commemoration, nor a single vision enlivening the Brown Commemoration. Thus, in the day-to-day events and activities comprising the commemoration we find many and competing ideas about what it means to remember the Brown v. Board of Education decision, and what it means to commemorate it here and now. There are in turn the many consumers of the Brown Commemoration, ranging from people who attend commemoration events, to those in classes affected in some way by commemoration programming. Like the Brown Commemoration producers, these consumers bring a broad range of understanding to their encounters with the commemoration, and in turn they participate in the commemoration dialogue in particular ways. Furthermore, the Brown Commemoration takes on life beyond formal events, for example in off-stage conversations, in passions ignited by the events, and in the forging of new social connections. Clearly, the Brown Commemoration’s domain is expansive: in it are represented many and diverse visions, many and diverse consumers, and many and diverse after-lives. EBC aims to capture the life and feeling of some of this; we make no pretense to cover the commemoration exhaustively.


Ethnography of the University students Rene Bangert, Paul Davis, Nicole Ortegón, and Teresa Ramos


ca. 2005

Contribution Form

Online Submission



Hyperlink Item Type Metadata




Ethnography of the University students Rene Bangert, Paul Davis, Nicole Ortegón, and Teresa Ramos, "Ethnography of the Brown v Board Jubilee Commemoration," in eBlack Champaign-Urbana, Item #110, http://www.eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/110 (accessed September 30, 2020).

Social Bookmarking