Brown v. Board of Education: 70 Years Later | Where Will Memphis and the Nation Go Next?


Children of varying ages climb the steps of the US Supreme Court.On April 11, 2024, the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change will host a conference to examine the legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education (1954). In one of the most important decisions in the nation’s history, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the separate but equal doctrine that had been the law of the land violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by relegating African American children to second-class citizenship in education by forcing them to attend segregated schools. While this decision had a profound impact on helping to eradicate discrimination in all spheres of American life, this conference will examine the impact of the Brown decision on creating equity in education for marginalized groups in Memphis and America today. 

The conference will be held on Thursday. April 11, 2024, starting at 10 am in the University Center on the University of Memphis campus. The Hon. Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education will deliver a plenary address and Tona Boyd, Associate Director-Counsel of the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP will deliver the keynote address.  A panel of professionals in education, law, and policy will discuss the current state of the quest for racial justice and educational equity.  Additionally, a special panel of youth representatives and future professionals will give voice to contemporary experiences of diversity in schooling, racial and educational justice.  Both panels will focus on imagining future tools for furthering equity in education. 

The conference is designed to appeal to the legal and education communities as well as policymakers and students. CLE credits will be made available to participating attorneys and members of the judiciary.

This conference is free and available to the public and registration to attend the conference is recommended. To register, click on the link below. 

Parking is available in the public garage located at 505 Zach Curlin Street, Memphis 38111.



Catherine Lharmon smiles in front of a flag.


Catherine E. Lhamon is the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, where she has served since the United States Senate confirmed her in October 2021 following President Biden’s nomination for her in May 2021. From January through October 2021, Assistant Secretary Lhamon served as Deputy Assistant to President Biden for Racial Justice and Equity, where she managed the President's equity policy portfolio.  From December 2016 until January 2021, she chaired the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to which President Obama appointed her. She has served in numerous high-levels in various capacities in the federal government and in California.  



Tona Boyd, in a blue dress, smiles for the camera.

Tona Boyd joined the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) in January 2023 as the Associate Director-Counsel, where she works in partnership with LDF’s senior leadership team to set and execute the strategic direction of the organization’s legal programs, operations, and administration.

Tona most recently served as Special Counsel and Special Assistant to the President in the White House Counsel’s Office in the Biden-Harris Administration, where she worked to advance President Biden’s agenda related to racial justice, equity, and judicial nominations. As a member of the White House Counsel’s Office, she provided legal advice to the President and executive agencies and led policy development on criminal justice reform, including policing, sentencing, clemency, drug policy, and community violence intervention, as well as civil rights – including hate crimes and domestic terrorism.

As a senior member of the judicial nominations team, Tona supported the selection, preparation, and confirmation of federal judicial nominees, including Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.