The words “Separate but Equal,” and “With All Deliberate Speed,” can all be applied to the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in their landmark decision of "Brown v. The Board of Education.” Eight-time award winning playwrights Dr. Steve Brown and Michael Ullstrup tackle another important social issue as their latest play is historically accurate, timely, and captivating.
This play was first performed as a full theatrical stage production in April, 2014 at the University of Missouri-Kansas City as part of a national symposium celebrating the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court 1954 decision in Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka Kansas. This world premiere was introduced by Cheryl Brown Henderson.
The play stars Steven Dundis as Earl Warren and Cameron Spencer as Thurgood Marshall. Viki DuMez directs.
In the words of Cheryl Brown Henderson, “When it comes to this production about the Brown case, this play is set in present day and gives us a glimpse into what Thurgood Marshall and Earl Warren might be talking about today…as they reminisce about the Brown case and what led up to it, and where we go from here.”
Cheryl Brown Henderson on the Brown v. Board decision
(U.S. Department of State Podcast, May 10, 2011)
“I think a lot of times we get lost in the decision itself, we get lost in what it meant for the nation. We forget that there were every-day people behind that. Without those plaintiffs that stood with the attorneys, there would not have been a case, and these were people that were ordinary. They were not activists by any means. Unlike the Civil Rights Movement, they were not out pro-testing. They were in their homes when someone asked them if they would be willing to join this legal campaign.
So my dad, for example, early 30s, my mom, late 20s, and my sisters and I were just very young. So these were young people kind of taking a chance on being a part of something that would keep them from being marginalized. And for African-American men in particular, our society historically really marginalized what they could do. And how can you be a man if you’re living in the margins? So I think that’s why my dad was so willing to say yes after some contemplation. And they knew it was a risk they were taking. Even though in Kansas, perhaps not as risky as South Carolina or Virginia, the other cases. But it was still a risk they were taking.”
Cheryl Brown Henderson is the Founding President of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research.
- Cameron Spencer (“Thurgood Marshall”). Cameron Spencer, a teacher at Waukegan (Illinois) High School, says, “Portraying Thurgood Marshall afforded me the opportunity to learn more about his impact on society, beyond being the first black Supreme Court Justice. Being a high school teacher in an ethnically diverse population, I get to see first-hand the need for all to receive an equal opportunity for a quality education. I appreciate the efforts of Thurgood Marshall and all involved in the cases that were Brown v. Board.”
- Stephen Dundis, PhD, JD (“Earl Warren”). The role of Chief Justice Earl Warren is portrayed by Dr. Stephen Dundis, who shares these thoughts about his role as Warren. “I think everyone wants to be a hero. I am getting the chance to play one who ranks at the top of my list. . . a public servant in the true sense of the word. Earl Warren was one of those quiet heroes who, although he later became relatively famous as Chief of the Supreme Court, toiled within the system throughout his life to do the right thing regardless of politics, self-interest, ideology, or fear of retribution.”
- Viki DuMez (Director). Viki DuMez is a founding member of the award-winning 91.1 Radio Players at WGTD-FM in Kenosha, Wisconsin and a regular star and director of the WGTD Radio Theater. Viki enjoys portraying historical figures, Amelia Earhart, and is a regular at the annual Illinois Aviation Academy's Girl Scout Aviation Day in West Chicago, Illinois. On the stage, Viki debuted with Brown-Ullstrup Productions in the role of Mary Baird Bryan in the award-winning play, “And on the Eighth Day: Bryan v Darrow.” She lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with her husband, Robert.