Some people are flooded with a sense of awe as they read Dawn of Desegregation. Others are stunned to realize how awful things were for some American citizens in much of the twentieth century. Almost all agree the book should be read by all Americans.
Any of the following points and questions that touch on courage, leadership, the US Constitution, and outcomes can be used as discussion starters for book clubs.
1. In many ways, Dawn of Desegregation is a story of personal courage. Discuss the ways in which that courage was exhibited, and by whom.
2. If you had a child enrolled in Scott’s Branch School in 1949 and was asked to be a plaintiff, how do you think you would have responded? Why? What risks would you have considered?
3. What did you think of the Reverend J. A. De Laine? How would you describe him? What was his most admirable quality? In what different ways did he demonstrate leadership? Why do you think he did not achieve national acclaim during his lifetime? What influence do you think his wife had on his actions? How important was her support?
4. On several occasions, the author has said, “If any one person can be said to be responsible for the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit coming to court, it would be J. A. De‑Laine.” In what way is this statement justified?
5. Discuss Judge Waring’s role in bringing the “dawn of desegregation”?
6. Based on the information presented, do you believe that plaintiffs Edward Ragin and Robert Georgia should have received more recognition over the years than plaintiff Harry Briggs?
7. How aware were you of (a) the 1954 Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Board, and (b) that the conclusion of the Court was applied to five different lawsuits? Which two amendments to the U.S. Constitution were invoked by the litigants? What are the provisions of those two amendments?
8. After the 1954 Brown decision by the Supreme Court, S. E. Rogers (lawyer for the Summerton School Board and the town of Summerton) became a major force in organizing White Citizen Councils throughout South Carolina. Does this suggest anything to you about his interest in all of the students of the school district?
9. Describe at least two ways in which the Brown decision has served as a precedent in changing your life or how you live. Do you think these changes have been for the better or worse?
10. What makes the segregation that exists in America’s schools in the year 2011 so profoundly different from the segregation that existed in the year 1950? Should these two social conditions be considered as being equal?
11. Philosophically, do you think religious leaders have a responsibility to help others improve their lives? Why?
12. Rev. De Laine said, “the story had its beginning…” Why do you think he identified that particular time as the beginning? Do you think the story, as told in this book, had an earlier or later beginning?
13. Why was the Reverend E. E. Richburg so vital to De Laine’s efforts?