Oral Histories: Remembering Brown v. Board of Education at 65


WATCH — A Brown v. Board Oral History: Nathaniel Briggs Reflects on ‘This Case out of South Carolina That Changed the Weight of the South’

May 14, 2019

Nathaniel Briggs is the son of Harry Briggs Sr., the named plaintiff in South Carolina’s Briggs v. Elliott that was later consolidated as part of the Brown v. Board Supreme Court case.

In this interview, Briggs tells the story of how his parents, Harry and Eliza Briggs, joined a petition on behalf of the children of School District 22 of Clarendon County to fight for better educational facilities and equal amenities for black students. As a result of this, Harry and Eliza Briggs lost their jobs, as did other petitioners. The family then became split across Miami and New York as they sought to find employment opportunities.

This petition eventually became a lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court as a part of Brown v. Board.

Briggs was drafted in 1968 and sent to Vietnam. After serving a tour of duty, he returned to New York and began working for Ford Motor Company. He also served for two years in the United States Army and for 13 years in the New Jersey National Guard.

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Learn more about Briggs and the five cases that were ultimately merged into Brown v. Board and see more testimonials from the families who changed America’s schools at our new site: The74Million.org/Brown65.

Disclosure: The Walton Family Foundation provides financial support to The 74 and funded The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research in producing the new book Recovering Untold Stories: An Enduring Legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision.


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