Education in America Part 5

posted in: History Makers | 0

Brown vs. Board of Education

This is from a Facebook post in 2018, but seems appropriate right now to repeat.

Do you know… Linda Brown?
In 1954, Linda Carol Brown(February 20, 1943 – March 25, 2018) was just an 11-year-old schoolgirl in Topeka, Kansas. Her father Oliver Brown, was a welder and a pastor, a member of the NAACP.
Linda says that in her neighborhood, she played with children of all races and backgrounds. The high schools and junior highs in her district were all integrated – but not the elementary schools. Sumner Elementary, an all-white school, was only six blocks from Linda’s house. She was not allowed to go there.

Monroe, where Linda attended, actually provided a good education. Many talented African American teachers, unable to teach in white schools, taught there. However, the NAACP persuaded Oliver that he should join their attempt to file suits against white schools across the country, to overturn the 1896 Plessy vs. Ferguson “separate but equal” ruling. Initially, it was dicey – the Chief Justice, Vinson, favored retaining Plessy. The US District Court in Kansas let Plessy stand. But before the case actually made the Supreme Court, Vinson died and was replaced by pro-civil rights Earl Warren. Eventually, Plessy was overturned, forever changing the face of American education.

Linda was not actually affected by the decision – she was in junior high by the time the case was decided. She did receive some harassment after the decision but went on to attend Washburn and Kansas State University.

Linda remained a voice for the rights of others. In 1979, she re-opened the case, maintaining that segregation and discrimination continued. An appeals court ruled in her favor in 1993. Linda married three times, suffering one divorce, and two husbands that died. She left two children when she died.

Brown passed away in her longtime hometown of Topeka on March 25, 2018. Although her family wouldn’t comment, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer paid tribute to the woman who sparked one of the landmark cases in American history:

Sixty-four years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended segregation in public schools in America,” he tweeted. “Linda Brown’s life reminds us that sometimes the most unlikely people can have an incredible impact and that by serving our community we can truly change the world.”

Monroe Elementary was declared a national park.

Next week: Native American Education

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