Drake graduate Ramona Palmer-Eason and Hunter R. Clark at a reception preceding the awards ceremony. Courtesy Martin E. Wisneski, Topeka, Kan.
Drake University law professor Hunter R. Clark traveled to the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kan., on May 17 to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that outlawed racial segregation in public education.
On behalf of Thurgood Marshall’s family, Clark accepted a posthumous award honoring the first African American Supreme Court justice, who had served as chief counsel for the NAACP in the Brown litigation.
Also honored were the surviving members of the Brown legal team, and the original plaintiffs, or their descendants, in the five cases that were consolidated into Brown.
"It was humbling to accept an award on behalf of Thurgood Marshall, whose contributions to equality and justice were monumental," Clark said. "Also, it felt good to acknowledge the courage and sacrifices of family members whose lives were exposed and put at risk in the struggle for equal rights. I am glad Drake could play a role in advancing this heroic legacy."
Clark is co-author of the award-winning biography "Thurgood Marshall: Warrior at the Bar, Rebel on the Bench," which was published in 1994.
Palmer-Eason and Clark on the dais, along with members of the Kansas congressional delegation, in a photo from the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Members of Kansas’ congressional delegation, including Sen. Sam Brownback, and U.S. House of Representatives members Jerry Moran and Lynn Jenkins, were in attendance at the event, which drew nearly 300 people.
The event was sponsored by the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity Excellence and Research, a nonprofit organization founded in 1988 as a living tribute to the Brown ruling and those involved in the case.
The foundation is chaired by Ramona G. Palmer-Eason, who received her bachelor's degree in journalism from Drake in 1993 and her law degree from Drake in 1996. A former student of professor Clark, Palmer-Eason serves as counsel to Topeka-based Collective Brands Inc., the largest non-athletic footwear company in the western hemisphere.