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Research symposium marks end of Brown theme semester

BY LINDSEY PATERSON
Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 15, 2004

LSA senior Lindsey Petersen said growing up in northern
Michigan, she always had a negative image of Detroit. Her
perspective changed this term when she traveled to Detroit with her
Psychology 317 class to work with children at Latino Family
Services.

“Actually going there gave me a different
perspective,” Petersen said, adding that her work involved
tutoring and playing games with the kids. “All these kids
were success stories.”

Peterson’s project, based on her personal experience in
Detroit was, completed based on her experiences was one of many
displayed at a research symposium in Haven Hall yesterday that
celebrated the end of the University’s Brown v. Board of
Education 50th Anniversary Commemoration theme semester.

Student research projects illuminated the impact of the
Brown case on Detroit schools, Hispanic and Asian American
communities and other areas of education such as tutoring
inner-city children.

“The main purpose of (the symposium) is to highlight and
celebrate work and to share it with others in the community,”
Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Education Evans Young said.
“We asked students to be as creative as they could be. We
didn’t try to lay down any rules.”

The topics ranged from problems with white flight from Detroit
to community service projects in Detroit Public Schools conducted
by University students.

Rackham student Jonathan Lachance, who is studying urban
planning, worked with 11 other University students to look at the
population distribution of blacks and whites in Ann Arbor, Detroit
and Southfield.

Lachance said the Brown case worked to eliminate
inequalities within a district, but eventually growing inequalities
arose between the city and suburbs, such as the disparity between
Detroit and schools in the affluent Grosse Pointe area outside the
city.

“It really goes to show that when people have an aversion
to integration, there’s always a way to avoid it, by moving
to a different city or state. A solution may not be to make laws to
dictate areas but to change peoples’ ideas about
integration,” Lachance said.

Education students Brighid Dwyer and Angela Locks worked with
other University students to create a curriculum about the
Brown case for the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti school districts.
Some students worked on second and third grade curricula, while
others crafted lessons for high schools about the court case and
school desegregation.

The school projects will be posted on the group’s website,
"http://www.umich.edu/~multibts">www.umich.edu/~multibts.

LSA senior Ken Nadolski and RC senior Alyse Erman were part of a
group that researched Asian Americans’ history in
Detroit.

Their video was used for a conference in Detroit on community
building and the revitalization of the Chinatown district, Nadolski
said.

Their group spent about five hours a week in the Cass Corridor
neighborhood of Detroit, the site where city officials hope to
rebuild Chinatown. They also drove around the neighborhood to meet
people and see how they lived.

“We learned the story of marginalized communities getting
destroyed,” Nadolski said.

Also at the symposium yesterday were members of the program
Lives of Urban Children and Youth.

“The program is about engaging in meaningful ways with
children in urban settings and education is a part of it,”
said LUCY Director and Education Prof. Stella Raudenbush.

“We got to see the positives and negatives of a
homogeneous school,” LUCY participant Melissa Walk said.
Walk, an LSA freshman, worked at Logan Elementary School, where 80
percent of the population was Hispanic, she said.

The University students participating in the program went to
Detroit to tutor and to “communicate and interact with
diverse groups and individuals through direct experience and
intentional mentoring,” according to the LUCY brochure.

“(LUCY) is not just theory — it’s a chance to
apply what you’re reading about and what your teachers are
telling you,” LSA freshman Amanda Hooper said.

Overall, the theme semester resulted in an increased awareness
of racial inequalities, Young said.

“I think it’s been great. We had a really
well-thought out calendar of events,” he said.

Some events featured during the semester consisted of a speech
by Linda Brown Thompson and Cheryl Brown Henderson — the two
sisters who inspired the Brown lawsuit — an exhibit on
diversity in the Duderstadt Center, a film festival at the Michigan
Theater and a variety of speakers.