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When Nancy Todd was nearly struck waiting for a ride to school, she and her family catapulted into the then-burgeoning U.S. civil rights movement.
Now, more than 60 years since that incident and 55 years since the landmark court case that ended school segregation and the nation’s “separate but equal” doctrine, Todd will speak of her experiences and those of her late mother, Lucinda Todd. Her visit is part of Black History Month celebrations at UCCS.
“Lessons from Brown vs. Board of Education: The Quest for Black Citizenship” will begin at 6 p.m. and include a buffet dinner and a community panel in addition to comments by Nancy Todd and her husband, Ramon Noches. The event is free. Sponsors include the NAACP, the UCCS College of Education, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum. To attend, contact Carla Rupprecht, 255-4134 or firstname.lastname@example.org, by Feb. 10.
The landmark case, Brown v. Board, began when Nancy Todd, then a youngster, was nearly hurt while waiting for a bus to take her and other black children across town to an all-black elementary school in her hometown of Topeka, Kan. In that era, most white children walked to nearby all-white neighborhood schools. Additionally, black children were not allowed to participate in school district-sponsored music programs. The incident sparked her mother, Lucinda Todd, to action.
Lucinda Todd, who had earned a teaching degree at Pittsburg (Kansas) State University and taught at one of Topeka’s all-black schools in the 1930s, became a plaintiff in the landmark case. She opened her home to lawyers who would eventually argue the case before the Supreme Court as well as NAACP leaders, exposing herself to racist attacks and jeopardizing her teaching career.
Because of Lucinda Todd’s actions, the era of segregated public schools ended across the nation. She later taught in an integrated Topeka school and was secretary of the Topeka NAACP.
“I just wanted to see that they got fair treatment,” Lucinda Todd said in an interview with the Kansas Historical Society before her death in 1996 at age 93.
Nancy Todd-Noches, now of Austin, Texas, will share her own story of earning a degree in music therapy, working as a teacher and as a pianist, and the experience of being part of the civil rights movement. She will also share photographs and rare documents highlighting the communication between national NAACP offices and the Topeka branch. Noches, a retired Air Force colonel, will also share his memories of the era. Biographies of both are available at: www.uccs.edu/~coe/qecls/index.html.
A video biography of Lucinda Todd is available here:
For more about Brown v. Board of Education, as well as photos of the Todd family, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu/Brown/history/4-five/topeka-kansas-1.html.
Following the presentation by Nancy Todd-Noches and Ramon Noches, there will be a community panel discussion.
Todd-Noches will speak at Pikes Peak Community College on Feb. 18 and will also be a special guest at the Multicultural Youth Symposium sponsored by El Pomar Foundation.
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