Rabbi Joshua Chasan, Ohavi Zedek Synagogue of Burlington, VT, "Dr. William Neal Brown: Exemplar of the Integrity of Integration"
The grandson of a former slave and son of a steelworker in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, William Neal Brown grew up in poverty. He graduated first in his high school class, but was denied the usual honor of being valedictorian because of his color. He went on to the Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, in Virginia, where he excelled as a debater. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II as a special services officer whose job was to boost the morale of the black pilots training in Tuskegee, Alabama. After the war, Brown earned his M.S.W. degree at Columbia University and his doctorate at the City University of New York and worked as a clinical social worker for the Veterans Administration. He supervised social work students, including students from Rutgers, in their field placements. In 1956, he joined the faculty at Rutgers as an assistant professor.
In 1961, he substituted at the request of students for a Rutgers School of Law professor, C. Clyde Ferguson, in a debate with Malcolm X on the subject of integration. The debate was held in the auditorium of the Rutgers School of Pharmacy, then in Newark; it lasted for nearly two hours and 20 minutes.
"What I enjoyed most, I think, was that he was so dedicated and so sincere and wanted to make sure that we future professionals had what it took to be able to do our job," recalls former student Laurice Walker. "I was mesmerized by some of his lectures. He made his own life story so real. I think the most enjoyable time that I spent at Rutgers was in his class."
This is the School's newest endowed lecture, created by Suzanne Zimmer, long-time associate of Professor Brown.
Date: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Location: John Cotton Dana Library, Dana Room, 4th flr.
Time: 5:00 networking reception, 5:30-6:30 lecture
CEH: 1 nonclinical
Parking information available upon RSVP.