Kids Get Look at Civil Rights Era

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Peterson

epeterson@@dailyherald.com

Teacher Drew Shilhanek's biggest hope Monday was that his sixth- grade students would one day be as impressed as he was that they'd met one of the drafters of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

But based on the sophisticated questions they asked semi-retired attorney David Filvaroff, it seemed they already understood his contribution to history.

Filvaroff worked in the Attorney General's office during the tenure of Robert Kennedy, while the Act was written and passed.

He visited Shilhanek's classroom at Quest Academy in Palatine, where his granddaughter is a student, as part of its study unit on the civil rights movement.

During a grandparents' day Friday, while most were answering general questions about living through the civil rights era, the girl happened to mention her own grandfather in Buffalo, N.Y., had helped write the Civil Rights Act.

He was quickly invited for a personal question-and-answer session on Monday.

Filvaroff downplayed the role he played in helping write the Act in comparison with the bravery of black citizens who risked physical harm to draw attention to the immorality of segregation and discrimination.

Still, his insight on the evolution of a law that allowed the country to take its next steps toward a higher standard of morality fascinated even students whose parents were barely kids themselves at the time.

"The 1964 Act, when it passed, was aimed specifically at the southern part of the United States," Filvaroff said. …