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University of Massachusetts students, faculty and community members packed SOM’s Flavin auditorium to hear the lecture, “The Whole United States is Southern! Brown v. Board and the Mystification of Race,” given by Charles M. Payne, a Sally B. Robinson professor at Duke University.

“This is exactly what are hopes were for this commemoration. We

gathered a lot of people into a room and asked controversial questions,”

said Carl H. Nightingale, UMass associate professor of history and

program coordinator of events.

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Payne touched upon many moments in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education, starting with explaining when he believed the use of the word segregation went into use in the south. He said it was used by southerners during the Civil War time period. Segregation was a word used by southerners who had some control over the southern economy. Confederate soldiers had always believed there was something problematic with blacks, explained Payne.

At points during his speech, Payne placed the audience in the shoes of

African-Americans during these times of social anxiety.

“Think about being black and in high school and not being able to go eat in your cafeteria for four years just because you weren’t the same color,”

described Payne. “There was great fear in black communities, they worried

about what would happen if their children were put in with whites. What

if the teachers their kids had lost their jobs because of the Brown v.

Board of Education settlement, and they did.”

Payne also added the fact that even though this court decision may have helped black students join with whites, but reactions were varied.

“The symbolism of this decision probably wasn’t that meaningful to

blacks who were poor. After all, it didn’t help put any food on their

plates,” Payne explained. “Parents were often caught between making

the decision of where their kids would go to school.”

Faculty at the event, including UMass Chancellor John Lombardi, lauded Payne for coming to speak to the UMass

Campus.

“When we come across a great scholar such as this, to be able to have

him here is an honor,” said Chancellor Lombardi.

The lecture program is being funded by 1967 UMass graduate Kenneth R. Feinberg and his family and friends. Other sponsors for the program include the UMass College of Humanities and Fine Arts, the Department of Afro-American studies, the Department of Women’s Studies, the Department of Legal Studies, the Center for Public Policy and Administration, the Political Economy Research Institute and the Sports Management Department.

Feinberg was an assistant United States attorney in the Southern District of New York in the 1970s. He also served on Special Counsel, and the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary from 1975 to 1978. From 1977 to 1979, he served as an administrative aide to Sen. Edward Kennedy.

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“The UMass History Department commends Feinberg,” said Gerald W. McFarland, professor of history and director of undergraduate studies. “He’s truly an amazing individual whose professionalism has repeatedly been recognized through appointments through major public service posts.”

Feinberg-lecturer Charles Payne is the author of many works, including “Getting What We Ask For: The Ambiguity of Success and Failure in Urban Education” and “I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.”

Payne has received awards from the Southern Regional Council, Choice Magazine, the Simon Wisenthal Center for the Study of Human Rights in North America.

In addition to his awards, Payne has an extensive background to back up his knowledge of African-American history. He is the founding executive director of the Urban Education Project in Orange, New Jersey. The Urban Education Project is a non-profit community center, which strives to broaden educational experiences for urban youths.

Payne has worked on many different college campuses, including Williams College, Southern University and Northwestern University.