"In our short encounter with the BC (Brown Jubilee Commemoration), it has become very clear that this is a huge venture."  

In the academic year 2003-04, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosted a year-long, comprehensive “Jubilee Commemoration” of Brown v. Board of Education (hereafter “Brown”), the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision on school desegregation. On- and off-campus units and individuals were invited to apply for Jubilee Commemoration funding to support events, performances, lectures, readings, films, and exhibits. This initiative resulted in hundreds of events that were, in turn, supplemented by many unofficial but related gatherings. The U of I’s effort stands as perhaps the most extensive attempt by a U.S. university to launch a comprehensive conversation on race and diversity through the commemoration of Brown. As a supplement to this enormous effort, campus administrators decided to study the commemoration itself: hence the genesis of the Ethnography of the Brown v. Board of Education Jubilee Commemoration—EBC for short. EBC, a 10-person research collaborative comprised of undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty, used ethnographic methods including sustained participant observation, interviews, and field research to study both the public life of the Commemoration year and the campus’s broader “dialogue” on race and diversity. The EBC charge was a very open one, stipulating only a preliminary report due by mid-November, 2004. (Introduction)

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