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Kansas Naturalization Ceremony Blends History

USCG Color Guard advancing the colors.

USCG Color Guard advancing the colors.

It was a convergence of history at a recent District of Kansas naturalization ceremony. During the 150th anniversary year of the Emancipation Proclamation, standing in the former Monroe Elementary School at the heart of Brown v. Board of Education, the first African American woman to sit on the federal trial bench in Kansas addressed a group completing the process to become U.S. citizens.

Judge Julie Robinson of the District of Kansas congratulated the new citizens who gathered in the former elementary school renovated as the Brown V. Board of Education National Heritage Site.  Her remarks to the multi-national gathering resonated in the historic surroundings, where the legal battle against segregation in schools was fought.

Left to right: Dave Schafer, Acting NPS Superintendent; Pam Patton, Deputy Clerk; Lee M. Smithyman, President, Kansas Bar Association; Federal District Judge Julie A. Robinson; Pedro L. Irigonegaray, Naturalization Chairman, Topeka Bar Association; Andrea

Left to right: Dave Schafer, Acting NPS Superintendent; Pam Patton, Deputy Clerk; Lee M. Smithyman, President, Kansas Bar Association; Federal District Judge Julie A. Robinson; Pedro L. Irigonegaray, Naturalization Chairman, Topeka Bar Association; Andrea Billings-Graham, performer.

Robinson said, “Today the tapestry that is America is made stronger and beautiful as you are woven into the tapestry.  Congratulations to you as America’s newest citizens. But this is the last time we will recognize you as America’s newest citizens. Because going forward, you have all the rights, privileges, responsibilities, and benefits of all other American citizens, no matter how long you have been a citizen.”

Last year, federal judges administered the oath of allegiance to nearly 383,000 new citizens. Naturalization ceremonies are held at district courtrooms, historic sites, and even public arenas and convention centers.

A re-enactment for teachers and students of Brown v. Board of Education is available on the Judiciary’s website in the Educational Resources section.