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The Rule of Law in History
Almost every day we learn something new about the history of the Rule of Law. These glimpses of the past are posted to the Center's Facebook page. We invite you to submit your own suggestions. Check out prior posts on the Archives Page. Here is the latest post:
On October 20, 1951, during a football game between Drake University and Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University), Oklahoma defensive tackle Wilbanks Smith broke the jaw of Drake quarterback Johnny Bright forcing him to leave the game. Prior to the game, students on the A&M campus had spoken openly stated that Bright, an African American, "would not be around at the end of the game." Spectators at A&M practices the week before the game heard a coach urge his defensive players that were targeting the prep team's quarterback (that is, posing as Bright) to"get the n****r," and the prep quarterback later bragged that he and Smith had practiced the maneuver for breaking Bright's jaw. The incident was captured on film in a series of six photographs which clearly showed Smith deliberately breaking Bright's jaw well after Bright had handed to ball off to the Drake fullback. Despite overwhelming evidence and a national outcry, A&M President Oliver Willham denied the incident was anything more than an accident occurring during normal play. It was subsequently established that the school instituted an internal policy against discussing what became known as "The Johnny Bright Incident." Even Robert B. Kamm, who succeeded Willham as President of the school in 1966, refused to acknowledge the incident despite having been Dean of Men at Drake University in 1951. Bright recovered from his injury and was drafted into the NFL by the Philadelphia Eagles as the team first black player. However, Bright chose to play instead to play in the Canadian Football League where opportunities for minority players were much better. After a highly successful 12 year career, Bright remained in Canada where he became a teacher, coach and school administrator. It would not be until 2005, 22 years after Bright's death, that OSU President David J. Schmidly formally acknowledged that the assault on Bright had been deliberate.
- October 23, 2017: Rule of Law Day Program in Madison County at Wetsel Middle School
- October 24-27, 2017: Rule of Law Day Programs in The Roanoke Valley Public Schools.
- October 27, 2017: Rule of Law Day Assembly at Perry McCluer Middle School in Buena Vista.
- November 2, 2017: Prince Edward HS and Fuqua School ROL Day event at the Moton Museum in Farmville.
- November 3-4, 2017: Presenters, exhibitors, and contributing sponsor of the Virginia Council of Social Studies Educators’ 2017 Conference at the Richmond Marriott; Presentation topic – “On the Threshold: From Colonial Past to Global Future” – offers teachers a problem-based learning activity that connects America’s history of the rule of law to solving challenges facing today’s global community.
- November 15-19, 2017: Presenters and exhibitors at the National Council for the Social Studies 2017 Conference at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center; Presentation topic – “Walk in Their Shoes: Challenges Facing a Globally Diverse World” – exposes teachers to activities that allow students to collaboratively design and evaluate creative solutions to the complex challenges facing an ever more diverse and pluralistic national and global community.
- November 15 and 16, 2017: Rule of Law Day Programs in Henry County.
November 21, 2017: Rule of Law Day Program for Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights High School Students. This special program will bring 10 students from each CCPS high school and Colonial Heights High School together at the Chesterfield Career and Technical Center @Hull St. There will be speakers, a mock trial, and breakout sessions with volunteer judges and lawyers. The Center gratefully acknowledges the efforts of Justice Cleo E. Powell of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Judge Vanessa L. Jones of the 12th Judicial District of Virginia, and Dr. James F. Lane, Superintendent of Chesterfield County Public Schools in arranging for this program.
- November 27, 2017: Rule of Law Program Day at Martinsville High School.
- December 7, 2017: Roanoke College Coffee Shop Talk: "The Rule of Law and the Protestant Reformation: Protest and Reform" with Tim Isaacs and Mike Pace.
8 PM at Mill Mountain Coffee and Tea, 17 East Main Street, Salem, Virginia.
Free and Open to the Public.
- January 19, 2018: Rule of Law Day Program at Gretna Middle School.
- January 31, 2018: Rule of Law Program at Martinsville Middle School.
- April 10-13, 2018: Rule of Law Day Programs in Lynchburg.
- April 23, 2018: Rule of Law Day Program at Martinsville High School.
Past Events of 2017:
- October 12 and 13, 2017: Rule of Law Program at New Kent County Middle School
- October 9, 2017: Participated in a discussion of the how the Rule of Law affect economic growth in a joint program at Roanoke College with the Center for Economic Freedom.
- October 2, 2017: Rule of Law Program at Luray High School.
- October 3, 2017: Rule of Law Program at Page County High School.
- September 11, 14, 18, and 21, 2017: Participated in the Big Brother/Big Sisters After-School Mentoring Program for Roanoke City elementary students at the Oliver Hill House: Used soccer as a metaphor to help students understand the importance of the rule of law in their daily lives.
- September 15, 2017: Taped the first set of weekly podcasts at the Potter Studios on the grounds of James Madison’s Montpelier. Our first two guests were Annie Evans, Social Studies Specialist for Charlottesville Public Schools and Ray White, Executive Director of The Virginia Law Foundation. The four podcasts will be broadcast beginning in October.
- July 15, 2017: Presentation to the Young African Leaders’ Institute at James Madison’s Montpelier – Led conversation on the rule of law with 25 participants in the Washington Mandella Fellowship Program.