Interview with Mary Frances Berry

So, can you give us the story of walking with your teacher in Nashville the day that Brown v. Board of Education came out, and then segue into the lesson that you learned in the movement about the elements necessary for change?


When Brown against the Board of Education was decided, 1954, I was, happened to be downtown in Nashville, Tennessee with my high school teacher, and we were buying some materials for the senior class play. I was graduating that year, and I saw the headline, on the case, and I said to my teacher, "You know, this means that next year all the kids will be going to school together. Well, you know, they won't have to be going to separate schools." And she said, "It's not going to happen quite that fast. Not next year." And, she was right of course. It wasn't next year, and it wasn't soon after that. And Brown was about the use of legal strategy in the struggle. And we were to see over the next few years that litigation plays a major role, but that there also has to be implementation. And that you must have different strategies in trying to achieve justice for our people. Everything from direct action, civil disobedience, politics, almost anything that comes to hand. Ah, so Brown was important, but litigation is not the whole story.