Perfect Bound Softcover
DEAD-END ROAD may be more aptly entitled, “Another Brown vs. Board of Education”. This book captures the historical, educational and political events surrounding Jasper Brown and his struggles to integrate the public schools in Caswell County, North Carolina.
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Jasper Brown, a God-fearing man, husband, father and community leader, took a bold stand in pursuit of justice, freedom and equality of education for his four children and other black children living in Caswell County.
Starting in 1956, jasper, and other freedom lovers, throughout the auspices of the Caswell County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), initiated desegregation of the Caswell County School System.
After exhausting all administrative means to integrate the schools, jasper and others filed a lawsuit and embarked upon a bitter court battle. Six years later, the Federal 4th Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia ordered Caswell County officials to integrate the public schools.
On January 22, 1963, the first day of school integration, Jasper shot two white men in self-defense and was arrested to stand trial. Ebony and Newsweek magazines ran stories about the shooting. During the trial, the late, Honorable Thurgood E. Marshall assisted with Jasper’s defense.
Although the civil rights movement initiated by jasper and others was successful, Jasper and his family suffered humiliation, degradation, dehumanization, financial loss and even threats on their lives. Yet, through it all, Jasper and his family held fast to their faith and trust in God that His justice would prevail.
AN ATTEMPT TO KILL
It was a mild, mid-spring Saturday night in May l963 and all was peacefully quiet. In fact, it was too quiet. The wind was calm, the musical melody normally heard from the croaking frogs down at the pond and creek, had long ceased.
Not even the four guard dogs, tied down at the back of the house made a stir. A neighbor had given the dogs to the family for protection. Living far off a main highway on a dead-end road, with the nearest neighbor over a mile away, the family took all precautions to protect themselves. Anyone could slip through the woods from either of the adjoining farms and kill them and, it would be days or maybe weeks before their bodies would be discovered. Before accepting the dogs, Jasper and the boys had taken turns guarding the property at night. So, the dogs were a welcomed relief.
Since integrating the schools and shooting two white men on January 22nd, Jasper and his family had received many threats on their lives. Jasper did not know that his involvement to desegregate the public schools in Caswell County would arouse so much hate and cause his family so much grief. But, with God’s help, he was determined to defend his family and his civil rights, even if it meant losing his own life.
Jasper, his wife, Odessa, and their two young daughters had already gone to bed. Although it was only , tomorrow was a big day. He and his family were to take part in a Freedom Day Celebration in Raleigh, NC, and they wanted to get an early start.
The boys, ages l4 and l5, were too excited to sleep. It was not every day that they got a chance to go to Raleigh, especially on a Sunday. Sunday was the Lord’s Day, and their father made sure that they went to Sunday School and worship service. So, heading off to the state’s capitol was a big deal.
To kill time, the boys sat on the floor, whispering to one another and cleaning their shot gun and a rifle, the only two firearms that their father would allow them to use. They had learned from their father how to keep their guns in mint condition and ready for use at all times. As they busied themselves with the task at hand, they noticed their house pet, Sheeba, a mix breed mutt, running back and forth from their room to the hallway. The fur was standing up around Sheeba’s neck as she continued to run back and forth. Why was Sheeba acting so strangely? Who or what was lurking around the house? And, why weren’t the guard dogs barking?
Instinct told the boys that something was awry. So, they got down on their hands and knees and peeped out the window. It was pitch black outside that the boys could neither see nor hear anything. Their hearts raced, pounding as if their chests would explode. Sheeba, not barking, as if to sense that she would alert the intruders by doing so, continued to prance back and forth, looking towards the woods at the back of the house.
There was no time to wake their parents whose bedroom was at the other end of the hallway. Besides, it was already after ll:00PM, and they would be long sleep by now. Acting on impulse, instinct and adrenalin, the boys decided to turn off their bedroom light so they could better see out into the distant darkness. As the oldest son loaded the shot gun and rifle, the younger son quietly raised their bedroom window and eased the barrel of the shotgun out onto the window’s ledge, all the while looking for the slightest movement.
As if right on cue, about 75 feet from the back of the house, a spark illuminated the darkness. It was not a firefly. It looked like a match.
The youngest son took dead aim at the flame from the flickering light and starting firing, emptying first the shotgun and then the rifle.
Deborah F. Jefferson was born in 1950 and raised as a country girl in a small rural setting of Vance County, Henderson, North Carolina. She received her secondary education from the public schools of Vance County, and later moved to Washington, D. C. where she attended and graduated from Temple Business School while working for the federal government.
Call it fate, or divine intervention, in 1971, Deborah met, and shortly thereafter, married her husband, Bernard Brown. From the onset of their relationship, Bernard shared with her the trials and tribulations his family experienced when his father, Jasper Brown, sought to integrate the public schools in Caswell County, North Carolina in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Beginning in 1976, the Lord blessed Bernard and Deborah with three children. Desiring to raise their children away from the hustle and bustle of city life, the family relocated to Henderson, NC in 1983. When their children were enrolled in the Vance County Public Schools, Bernard and Deborah soon realized the true meaning of the old adage: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
In 1988, Deborah F. Jefferson Brown, a full-time wife, mother, and real estate business owner, decided that it was time, once again, to take a stand. A political novice, Mrs. Brown ran for the District #1 School Board seat and was elected to serve on the Vance County Board of Education. One of the very first decisions she had to make as a School Board Member dealt with the integration of an elementary school in her district.
Mrs. Brown served on the Vance County Board of Education for 12 years. It was during her tenure as a School Board Member that she began to more fully appreciate and understand the role and accomplishments of her father-in-law, jasper Brown, in desegregating the Public Schools in Caswell County, North Carolina.
Mrs. Brown believes that education, politics and politicians, play a fundamental role in all our lives and that there are valuable life lessons to be learned when serving as an elected official or holding a public office. It is her hope that by recapturing the historical, educational and political events surrounding the Jasper Brown civil rights movement, it may help those aspiring to be tomorrow’s leaders to avoid the pitfalls that could lead them down a “DEAD END ROAD”.
In 2000, Mrs. Brown became the first female and the first minority female to be elected to the Vance County Board of Commissioners. Her colleagues elected her to serve as Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners in December 2003.
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