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Thomas K. Gilhool chapter 4


Chapter 1: Early Career and Association with PARC
Chapter 2: PARC Approaches Gilhool
Chapter 3: Right to Education Case
Chapter 4: Brother's institutionalization influenced Tom's thoughts on Right to Education Case (you are here)
Chapter 5: Right to Education Heard in Federal Court
Chapter 6: Media and Reaching Diverse Audiences
Chapter 7: Fundamental Shift for the Educational System
Chapter 8: Meaningful Provisions in Consent Decree
Chapter 9: Implementation of Consent Decree
Chapter 10: Impact of Right to Education Case on Tom's Career

transcript - entire interview

Thomas K. Gilhool Interview (Word)

transcript - current chapter

LS: Tom, I'm really struck by, well there was so much in the opinion that you just shared, and what you've just discussed, and two words that you talk about keep coming back to me, the idea of these broken ties within families. I don't want to assume, but since your own brother, your brother Bobby was also living in a segregated facility at one point, I'm wondering if your own experience with these broken ties influenced your thinking about this case, or perhaps your drive to succeed in this case?

TG: Oh, absolutely, absolutely! My brother was at Pennhurst from 1954, a year after my father died, and we all moved back to Scranton, Pennsylvania, to the early '60s, when he moved from the Whitehaven Institution, and it was in the early '90s that he moved to the community in Pennsylvania, an most particularly in Philadelphia, where he has lived these twenty years since, and by and large had a wonderful time. Yes, that experience informed all of it, as Bob tells me very often, "you and I closed Pennhurst!" (laughs),uh, he's very proud of it all, though he, on occasion, as a year or two ago when some of our Japanese colleagues in the movement came to visit here in Pennsylvania, they very much wanted to see Pennhurst, and I asked Bob if he would like to go and he said, "No way!" In some ways the most revealing expression on his part of, uh, about those years - he had a very dear friend who was at Pennhurst with him, Mary Jane Leonas, who died much too young a few years ago from breast cancer. She had come out of Pennhurst quite early, and living with, along with a couple of other women from Pennhurst, living with a Black family in North Philadelphia. When the Pennhurst trial was on, in the spring of 1977-78, there was a transportation strike in Philadelphia, and she walked everyday from 26th and Lehigh to 6th and Market, which was a goodly number of miles. My brother came down from Whitehaven to sit in on the trial one day and he had no sooner crossed into the threshold, then Mary Jane, who usually sat amongst the Pennhurst employees, on the defense side, uh, saw him and said, "Bob!". And he said, "Mary Jane!" And they took up their relationship again, and were close friends until, until, until she died. But on one Saturday afternoon we were wandering through a bookstore in Philadelphia and it was a bookstore that had a lot of posters, and they both spotted and burst into great gales of laughter a poster of Elvis Presley and Jailhouse Rock. Because it turned out, it was a song of the '50s, and it caused them to call Pennhurst colloquially, Jailhouse Rock. That was their feel about it.

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