Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC - Delaware's Congressional delegation today announced that at their request, two Delawareans -- Littleton Purnell Mitchell and Judge Charles Toliver IV -- have been nominated by President Bush to serve on a national committee charged with developing plans to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the landmark civil rights case, Brown v. Board of Education. The 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down the separate but equal doctrine that allowed for separate schools for white and black children, and made public school segregation illegal throughout the United States. A few years earlier, Delaware Judge Collins Seitz ordered two Delaware school districts to open their doors to African Americans. The famed Delaware civil rights attorney, Louis Redding argued the case. This was the first such ruling of its kind in the nation, and provided a precedent for the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The national commission will be comprised of representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice; the Judicial Branch; the Brown Foundation; the Brown v, Board of Education National Historic Site; the NAACP and two representatives from each of the five states involved in the decision, Delaware, Kansas, Virginia, South Carolina and Massachusetts. Littleton Mitchell, a long-time civil rights and social activist graduated from Howard High, the state's only high school that admitted black students, before attending West Chester University in Pennsylvania on a track scholarship. After serving with the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, Mitchell returned to Delaware and became the state's first black teacher of white students. Since his retirement, he has maintained a rigorous community service schedule volunteering with Meals on Wheels, the NAACP and Christ Church in Delaware City. ALit Mitchell is an extraordinary crusader and I am inspired by his example," Senator Biden said of the former educator and head of the Delaware NAACP. "In the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, he has made great personal strides and led the charge to secure fair housing, equal access to public accommodations, and equal educational and employment opportunities in our state. Because of his unyielding commitment and exemplary record of accomplishment, I make this recommendation enthusiastically and without reservation." "Lit has lived a life dedicated to teaching diversity and tolerance. Focused on breaking down barriers standing in the way of civil rights, he has been a visionary in the fight for equality," Carper said. "Lit embodies the visionary spirit this board needs. For the fights he's won for freedom, for fights he's won for equality today, for the example he leads for tomorrow's children, I am proud to have supported Lit's nomination. The national committee will be strengthened by his leadership." Judge Charles H. Toliver, IV has served as an Associate Judge for the Superior Court of Delaware since 1990. Prior to his appointment to the Court, Toliver was an attorney with Biggs & Battaglia focusing on medical malpractice, domestic matters and real estate law primarily and served as an attorney with Leonard L. Williams and Associates focusing on similar areas. Judge Toliver has served as an instructor at the University of Delaware teaching courses in domestic relations and civil litigation and currently serves as an instructor at Delaware State University teaching sociology, criminology, African American history and U.S. history. Toliver is very involved in his community, having served on the board of St. Anthony's Community Center, the Wilmington Economic Development Corporation and the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau. "I am very pleased to see Judge Toliver has been nominated for this commission," said Congressman Castle. "As far back as I can remember, Judge Toliver has been fighting for equal education and treatment in racially diverse schools. He has worked hard to pave the way for all African Americans in search of opportunities to succeed. I wish him all the best and I know he will represent Delaware well on the Board." Specifically, the Brown v. Board of Education committee will be charged with planning and coordinating education activities and initiatives in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education; working with civil rights agencies to develop and coordinate observances and submit recommendations to Congress for the purpose of commemorating the anniversary.