Mike Adams
There is a tree behind my parents' house in Huntsville, Texas, where scores of birds come to feed every morning. Perhaps the most striking of those birds is a redheaded woodpecker that seems to be around every time I am home for Christmas.

A couple of months ago, after the birds had pecked away all of the seeds inside their feeder, my father climbed the tree to hang another clump of seeds for them to eat. But it seems that he accidentally hung the feeder on the branch above the one where he had previously hung the feeder. Most of the birds immediately figured out where the new feeder was placed. But that redheaded woodpecker just sat on the lower branch where he was used to pecking, swinging his head wildly into the empty air. Eventually, he figured things out and moved on to the higher branch.

That redheaded woodpecker is pretty impressive at first glance, but he isn't the brightest bird in the sky. Most of you have never seen a redheaded woodpecker, but I see them every day. That's because a lot of them teach at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

This semester, UNC-W's redheaded woodpeckers have set up a special "learning community" semester at the university. The theme of the "learning community" is "Brown v. Board of Education and how it has changed us." Its purpose is to increase "awareness of and appreciation for our history, our society, our rights and our liberty, as well as the continuous pursuit of the promise of democracy."

Towards that end, an entire course on the Brown case is being offered this spring in African American Studies. It is appropriately called "Brown v. Board of Education." Other courses in the special "Brown" semester include "Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement," "Searches for Freedom," "Enslaving America," "African American Filmmakers," "The Civil Rights Movement," "Segregated South and Autobiography," "Philosophy of Human Rights," "Undesirable Otherness," and "Voices on Desegregation." In all, there are 39 courses devoted in part or in whole to this one Supreme Court case. This comes to about 117 credit hours.

Some of these courses have been developed entirely for this special semester. Others are courses that have been altered to include discourse on the Brown case. For example, "Sociology of Aging" will include an assignment where students interview people who were alive during segregation.


Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.