Law School Dean Michael Young sat among Japanese paintings and sumo sculptures in his 23rd Street new office last week to discuss his plans to serve on a new Senate commission.
The commission will organize the 50th anniversary celebration of the Brown v. Board court decision that integrated blacks and whites in public schools. The case was decided in 1954.
Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist appointed Young, a Harvard Law graduate and expert in Japanese law, to serve on the 20-person commission, which includes other lawyers, civil rights and religious leaders from across the country.
“The design of commission is to commemorate the decision and engage in a public education campaign to remind people about the fundamental principles of (the case),” Young said.
Members of the Senate, House of Representatives and White House also helped select the commission, Young said.
Young, who is in his fourth year as GW Law School dean, said he is excited to serve on the commission.
“Brown v. Board was one of the most important court cases in my lifetime,” he said. “It probably launched more changes in American society than anything you can think of.”
Young, who teaches a course on comparative international law, said the case was an important step internationally for racial harmony.
“At least the U.S. is wrestling with (racial problems). Countries who point fingers at the U.S., like Germany and England, have their own ethnic minorities,” Young said.
He said the United States has a “long way to go” to racial equality but that this court case was a start.
This is not Young’s first governmental role. He serves on the U.S. Commission of Religious Freedom and the Bipartisan Advisory Commission.
Young said meetings with the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission will probably begin this week.
When he is not working with the government, Young said he “has very much to deal with” in his Law School position.
“It’s not like I need anything else to do with my life . but I think this is a rewarding thing to do,” Young said. “(The decision) stands for something so profound, I’m looking forward to working on it.”
He discussed a few of the recent developments in the GW Law program.
“We have a very strong international program, and we are currently building on it. We have just entered into exchange agreements with Asian universities,” Young said.
He also said GW looks to add more housing for law students.