CONSTRUCTING A LEGACY: THE ROLE OF ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATIONS IN REMEMBERING BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION
Bruner, Jaclyn Leigh
Pfister, Damien S.
MetadataShow full item record
Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was the landmark Supreme Court decision that outlawed legal segregation in the United States. This project engages with three commemorative events that mark the anniversary of the decision--the 25th, 50th, and 64th anniversaries--to investigate how public memory of Brown v. Board of Education is constructed and how the legacy of the decision is remembered. Anniversaries, as moments where kairotic and chronotic conceptions of time come together, offer an opportunity to (re)define the past through the work of public memory. Although Brown’s memory at the “monumental” 25th anniversary featured coordinated regional commemorations, Brown’s legacy of race and memory is nationalized and largely sanitized by the 50th anniversary. In contrast to these momentous anniversaries, the non-monumental 64th anniversary articulated a counter-regional identity for Topeka, Kansas. By tracing the public memory of Brown across a 60-year period, this dissertation extends James Boyd White’s theory of justice-as-translation, asserting that the critical, rhetorical attention to the public memory of the Brown decision enacts a form of narrative justice and, consequently, advances a new way of conceptualizing persistent, de facto segregation and racial injustice in our contemporary world.