Cheney’s research expands Civil Rights debate

A fresh review of “Brown v. Board of Education” reveals “a lack of consensus among blacks over the message and method of civil rights activism,” associate professor Charise Cheney found, in new research.

Cheney’s work was published by the UO Center for the Study of Women in Society as the Winter 2013 edition of “CSWS Research Matters.”

In her study of the famous Supreme Court decision that school segregation is unconstitutional, Cheney seeks to rectify an historical omission—namely, the neglect of local stories behind the national symbol. By complicating the story of the Topeka lawsuit, the associate professor of ethnic studies engages and expands current historical debates over the modern Civil Rights movement.

The study “sheds light on a pre-movement dispute among African-Americans over whether or not integration would be wholly beneficial to black communities,” Cheney said. “Many African-American parents wanted integrated schools, not because they believed the education their children received was inferior, but because black schools were underfunded.”

In Topeka, the school board provided similar resources for black and white students. Therefore, the intraracial dispute over Topeka’s segregated schools spotlights a classic ideological tension in black politics between asserting a belief in equal rights and preserving a sense of race pride, Cheney said.

-- UO Center for the Study of Women in Society