Camden law firm petitions the renaming of Brown vs Board of Education in honor of SC case

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Published: Nov. 7, 2023 at 8:29 AM EST
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CAMDEN, S.C. (WIS) - A Camden attorney and global expedition leader, Tom Mullikin, Ph.D., announced a law firm’s petition to rename the historic Brown vs. Board of Education case.

The announcement happened Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Mullikin Law Firm complex in the “Civil Rights” Reconciliation Room, Joshua Reynolds Building.

The announcement was in regard to the Mullikin Law Firm’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Like so many other unsung particulars of Palmetto State history, Briggs vs Elliot was the first and the catalyst for the ultimate victory,” says attorney Tom Mullikin. “For some, signing was tantamount to a death sentence. This courageous act would ignite a flame that would lead the civil rights movement across the country and cost these courageous families their physical, emotional, and economic security.”

Officials argued the state’s case of Briggs vs Elliot was the first case filed in federal district court. That case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme and was argued by the Honorable Thurgood Marshall.

Attorneys said during the announcement Briggs vs Elliot was the first case to challenge segregation in schools, ultimately leading to the end of segregation in public schools nationwide in 1954. They argued the case should be renamed

The Brown vs Board of Education decision is nationally recognized as the legal victory in the fight against school segregation.

“This about equal opportunity for education. In a rural state like ours they not only represented their families but other rural families who deserve the opportunity to be educated,” said Mullikin. “We’re praying the U.S. Supreme Court will correct a clerical error naming Brown vs. Board as the first name party in that case and put Briggs vs Elliot, which was the first case file before the Supreme Court. I can only hope that my legal work was sufficient to represent the interest of these great heroes.”

In the Briggs vs Elliot case, families in Clarendon County brought a lawsuit against the school board saying that only white students had access to school buses. When their petitions were ignored, the families filed the suit to challenge segregation itself.

Following that case, the Supreme Court struck down segregation in 1954.

Harry Briggs’ youngest son, Nathaniel, explained that with this timeline in mind, this particular case should be renamed.

“For over 70 years, it wears thin on you that this case should have some substance about name changing or equal access to all the names that were presented in Brown. If you talk about Little Rock Nine you can also talk about the education with the five so in that respect, I hope that the courts will think of that... and not just Brown,” said Briggs.

Civil rights activist, Cecil Williams, was present during the announcement and was also advocating for the renaming. Williams played a role in capturing the civil rights movement in South Carolina through photographs in the 1950s.

“You don’t get out of law school unless you talk about and study Brown vs Board of Education with the implication of Briggs being the first case. So, this monkey business had to be dealt with. Again, being first does matter sometimes in life and we want the Briggs case, and we want to bring this case and its name and the town and home back to South Carolina where it belongs,” said Williams.

Williams expressed the importance of the case being renamed after today’s announcement.

Mullikin told WIS, that the supreme court will now either do nothing, issue an order that would address and fix the clerical error, or allow them to be heard by the court.

You can watch the full announcement of the petition below:

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