Prince George's County, like many other communities in the Washington area, was slow to respond after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down segregation at public schools in its landmark ruling, Brown v. Board of Education. While there were some pioneers who desegregated the public schools -- among them a young Wayne K. Curry, who grew up to be the county's first African American county executive -- the schools largely remained separate and unequal for years after the 1954 high court ruling, according to the recollections of many county residents.

Eventually, Prince George's had its own desegregation lawsuit, Vaughns v. Board of Education. That 1972 case led to integration through busing students away from their neighborhood schools. In 1998, with the county more than 60 percent black, the court order ended and busing began to wind down in Prince George's -- partly because it was no longer a tool to achieve desegregation.

In this special issue of Prince George's Extra, we look at the legacy of Brown in Prince George's, a county that in the late 18th century was 63 percent black, and that today, after many changes, is again about 63 percent black, according to the 2000 Census. The staff writers who attempted to explain the legacy of Brown found many people in Prince George's who have clear memories of the post-Brown era in the county, and for whom Brown was in some way a life-altering experience.

Next week, after the county NAACP holds a special dinner at Prince George's Community College illuminating Brown and its aftermath, the Extra will publish several winning essays from a student contest that the organization conducted in which the writers explain what the Brown ruling means to them today.

As always, please call, write or send an e-mail with your comments and suggestions.

Miranda S. Spivack

Editor, Prince George's Extra