Courage Panel (from left to right): Moderator, Stephen Rohde, Joseph A. DeLaine Jr., Ophelia DeLaine Gona, and B.B. “Brumit” DeLaine
The Museum of Tolerance features the dynamic struggle of a Black family and community that led to the end of segregation.
By Brian W. Carter
Sentinel Staff Writer
On Thursday, May 27, the L.A. Sentinel attended a special exhibition and panel hosted by the Museum of Tolerance (MOT). “Courage: The Vision to End Segregation. The Guts to Fight for It” is the brave and courageous story of how Rev. J.A. De Laine and his family along with the community of Clarendon County, SC, spearheaded the events that led to the landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education.
Courage is a traveling exhibit that has been featured at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture & Exhibition Hall & Latimer/Edison Gallery in NY, New York. It has also been presented at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture in Baltimore, Maryland. The Courage exhibit went on display in February and will be at the MOT until August 23.
The “Courage” exhibit is an interactive, walk-through highlighting a very dark time in Black history. It focuses on the DeLaine family and their hard-pressed struggle for civil rights. Reverend Joseph Armstrong DeLaine, his wife Mattie Belton DeLaine and their three children: Joseph A. DeLaine, Jr., Ophelia DeLaine, and B.B. “Brumit” DeLaine lives are displayed through visual, audio and reconstructed sets within the exhibit.
Visitors will view scenes of Rev. DeLaine’s firebombed church, and the family among the remains of their firebombed home. Visitors will see and hear taped interviews with the DeLaine children and their accounts of their personal experiences. There is also documentation and information about key legal case, Briggs V. Elliot and the subsequent cases that would become Brown v. Board of Education.
Also on display are other features such as the famous doll experiment, key moments in Black history caught in time, and rare artifacts that depict the era. All these elements come together to capture Black history at one of its dangerous yet finest moments. A panel was held featuring the DeLaine children as they spoke about the events that surrounded their father’s fight for equality.
The panel was presented by representatives: Willis Edwards, National Board Member, NAACP, Lawrence Hinckle, President, Langston Bar Association, Marc Poster, President, Beverly Hills Bar Association and Liebe Geft, Director of MOT.
Stephen Rohde, lawyer, lecturer, writer, author and chair of ACLU Foundation of Southern California, moderated the panel speaking with the three Delaine children about key moments in their lives and history.
Joseph A. DeLaine, Jr., is the eldest of the DeLaine children. He received his bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He has served in the U.S. Army, conducted cancer research and is retired from the pharmaceutical industry working at Hoffman LaRoche Inc. for 20 years.
DeLaine is active in community development in North and South Carolina. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for the Youth Correctional Commission of New Jersey and a member of the U.S. Presidential Commission for the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.
Ophelia DeLaine is the middle child and only daughter of the DeLaine family. Today, she goes by Ophelia DeLaine Gona and earned her B.S. degree from Johnson C. Smith University, Masters degrees from Yeshiva University of New York and City College of New York and a Ph.D. from City University of New York.
Her post-graduate work includes seven years on the faculty of now Montclair State University, 25 years on faculty of UMDNJ- New Jersey Medical School. She started a year-round pre-college science and mathematics program called SMART.
Gona has also served, as Board of Trustees on several organizations, is grant writer for Briggs-DeLaine-Pearson Foundation. She also published work including a memoir of her father’s leadership role in the beginnings of Briggs v. Elliott.
B.B. “Brumit” DeLaine in the youngest of the DeLaine children. He received his bachelor’s from Johnson C. Smith University and masters degree from New York University.
He worked as a high school teacher of drivers’ education four years and Director of Driver Education for the Charlotte-Meckleburg School District in Charlotte, North Carolina for 30 years. DeLaine is currently secretary for the Briggs-DeLaine-Pearson Foundation Board of Trustees. He has 3 children and 5 grandchildren.
The DeLaine children shared with the audience their personal views of their father in his public and private moments. They shared their accounts of the times during segregation and how they feel about the current generation. The DeLaines’ later had time to share their feelings on the exhibit at the MOT.
“I’m very impressed with it,” said DeLaine, Jr., ” and as I told the museum director, that of the five spots where it’s appeared in the U.S., I rate this right along with the exhibit developer as one of the best.”
“It’s wonderful, it’s very nice,” said Gona. “It was very nice when they put it together in North Carolina and the people here have done an excellent job of setting it up…the public relations, everything has been wonderful here.”
“Well I’m partial to it,” said Delaine, “I was there during the developing and I was amazed when it was finished.”
He continued, “It’s one of the best efforts to tell the story without a lot of errors…the museum, I think did an excellent job of not being objective about what they put in it and subjective.”
The event was created by the Levine Museum of the New South in 2004. Courage is made possible by a grant from Bank of America to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education in America’s schools.
The NAACP, The Ray Charles Foundation, Langston Bar Association, Bank of America, ACLU of Southern California, Beverly Hills Bar Association and other notable organizations, also supports the exhibit.