Brown vs. Topeka: DESEGREGATION and MISEDUCATION

An African American's View
by Pansye Atkinson

About Atkinson

Pansye S. Atkinson, author, Brown vs. Topeka: Desegregation and Miseducation-   An African American's View

"Psychological occupation refers to a state of mind in which the collective mind, or psyche, of a people is under the influence of an oppressor or alien force which confuses distinctions between that oppressor's interests and those of the victims' kind. Such victims can suffer from loss of identity and ethos." - Pansye S. Atkinson

After thirty years of working in the fields of public school and higher education, in both segregated and desegregated settings, in the early 1980s Pansye S. Atkinson began penning thoughts about the observations and insights she gained during those years of experience.
 
Atkinson was the first person to hold the newly-established (1969) position of coordinator of integration at Frostburg State College (MD), as her husband William R. Atkinson held the new position of minority admissions counselor. Then-governor of Maryland Marvin Mandel mandated that these positions be implemented at the six state colleges to enhance desegregation/integration efforts in these institutions. At that time, Black/African American students were approximately one per cent (24) of the student population at FSC.
 
As the coordinator of integration (later changed at Frostburg State to director of minority affairs) and the minority admissions counselor worked with the College faculty, staff and students – and with the Frostburg community as well as with the broader Maryland African American community -- the Black student population began to exceed projected increases.
 
Responsible for advising then-FSC president Nelson P. Guild regarding the direction and progress of integration/desegregation efforts, Atkinson promoted a culturally-expanded campus environment, socially and academically, as well as social awareness for the broader Frostburg community. For Black entering students, and ultimately for all entering minorities as that population began to develop, Atkinson initiated early on a structured social and academic advising/counseling and monitoring system, in cooperation with other staff and faculty. The effective system endured and eventually involved students from the broader campus population.
 
Atkinson's earlier experience provided a foundation of knowledge and insight that helped her to develop such programs, which contributed to success for Black students and state-level commendation for Frostburg State for the retention of Black freshmen: During a period in the late 1970s, a study within Maryland higher education institutions determined the retention rate to be the highest of any and all freshmen in the institutions reviewed.
 
Atkinson's writing about the impact of the implementation of the Brown decision on Black students and the Black community was further inspired during doctoral study at the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities/Union Graduate School (Cincinnati), while employed at Frostburg State (studies interrupted by professional concerns). The book Brown vs.Topeka: Desegregation and Miseducation - An African American's View evolved.
 
A native of Asheville, North Carolina and a graduate of Fisk University (Tennessee), Atkinson began a career as a teacher in city and county public schools in Georgetown, South Carolina (Mr. Atkinson's home), and later taught in Baltimore, MD before working in higher education. During those years, Atkinson did graduate study in music and education at South Carolina State College/University, The Peabody Conservatory of Music and Towson State College/Towson University in Baltimore. She completed the M. Ed at Frostburg State.
 
In 1986, Atkinson was placed in the position of first director of affirmative action/equal employment opportunity (AA/EEO) at Frostburg State. She retired from Frostburg State University (university status attained in 1987) in 2005.
"Educators may have had good intentions, but some have been unwilling and/or unprepared to work effectively with a population unfamiliar to them. African American children have been increasingly placed in either a cookie-crusher or a cookie-cutter environment." - Pansye S. Atkinson
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spirituals (for pansye)


sister gospel truth with the robust voice
sing your song sister,
sing it out real loud,

let us learn it and be strong
as you exhale your sermon of
ceremonial remembrances
and poignant questions:

       who shall we love?
       who shall we depend on?
       who shall we fight for?

        sing it sister,

make my day boil with truth,
my nights echo with anger,
my mornings awaken with struggle.

and sister,
whey [when] you finally grow weary,
when your voice tires from ancient yearnings,
no worry,
africa shall rise
with a choir of your children
leading the world in your spirituals.

     From book of poetry Elvis Presley is alive and well and living in Harlem
     by Brian Gilmore (a Frostburg State University graduate)
     Third World Press, 1992

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"The flawed interpretations regarding their "Doll Studies" that Kenneth and Mamie Clark submitted to the Supreme Court during the Brown hearing helped to fortify White America's long-standing image of 'Negro' self-hatred and of White superiority."...Pansye S. Atkinson