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Chicago-Area Museum Hosts Courage: The Vision to End Segregation, the Guts to Fight for It, February 3 - April 21, 2013

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More than half a century ago, families in Clarendon County, South Carolina, launched the first of five national lawsuits. The result: the Supreme Court declared racially segregated public schools unconstitutional. That 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education, initiated massive change in race relations across the country.

Few Americans realize that it was people outside the traditional power structure, without wealth and often with little classroom education, who worked together to begin the process that ended legal segregation of the races in America's schools. The exhibition, COURAGE: The Vision to End Segregation, The Guts to Fight for It chronicles the inspirational journey of Rev. J.A. De Laine and the brave citizens of Clarendon County as they fought to put an end to separate, unequal schools.

Once inside the exhibit, visitors are transported back to "the way it was" in Clarendon County in the late 1940s to witness the segregated South and face inequality. Two chairs placed apart with a plank of wood between them served as benches for African-American students. When books at the white schools became worn out they were discarded and marked "For Colored Use Only."

"We are proud to tell the powerful story of these brave citizens who together forever changed America," said Rick Hirschhaut, Executive Director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum. "Because of their willingness to stand up in the face of bigotry, these courageous men and women left a legacy of civil justice and improved educational opportunities for future generations."

Personal histories, photographs, reproductions of letters and documents, interactive components and artifacts, help tell the story. The exhibit also introduces Judge Waties Waring, a white South Carolinian who provided counsel and assistance, and Thurgood Marshall, the future Supreme Court justice who organized much of the work that became Brown v. Board of Education.

COURAGE was also the recipient of numerous awards and recognition, including winner of the American Association of Museums' 2005 Excellence in Exhibition Competition and the Southeastern Museums Conference Award of Excellence in 2004.

On Sunday, February 3, 2013, from 1 until 3 pm, COURAGE: The Vision to End Segregation, The Guts to Fight for It, will open with a discussion led by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura S. Washington. She will interview members of the De Laine family, whose patriarch, Reverend J.A. De Laine, galvanized the citizens of Clarendon County in bringing this pivotal lawsuit. Reservations required; reservations (at) ilhmec (dot) org.

Courage: The Vision to End Segregation, the Guts to Fight For It was created by the Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte, North Carolina and made possible by a generous grant from Bank of America. The Golder Family Foundation is the lead sponsor for all Special Exhibitions at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.

The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is the largest facility in the Midwest dedicated to preserving the memories of those lost in the Holocaust and to teaching current generations to fight hatred, indifference and genocide in today's world. The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.; Thursday evenings until 8:00 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Learn more at illinoisholocaustmuseum.org.


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