Linda Brown, Kansas Girl At Center Of 1954 School Segregation Ruling, Dies At 76

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Linda Brown, the Kansas girl at the center of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down racial segregation in schools (Brown v. Board of Education), has died at age 76.

Topeka’s former Sumner School was all-white when her father, Oliver, tried to enroll the family. He became the lead plaintiff in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court that ended school segregation.

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Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel of Topeka confirmed that Linda Brown died Sunday afternoon. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Linda Brown Smith stands in front of the Sumner School in Topeka, Kan., on May 8, 1964. Photographer: AP Photo (Bloomberg)

Her sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, founding president of The Brown Foundation, confirmed the death to The Topeka Capital-Journal. She declined comment from the family.

“Her legacy is not only here but nationwide,” Kansas Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis said. “The effect she had on our society would be unbelievable and insurmountable.”

NY Daily News

The landmark case was brought before the Supreme Court by the NAACP’s legal arm to challenge segregation in public schools. It began after several black families in Topeka were turned down when they tried to enroll their children in white schools near their homes. The lawsuit was joined with cases from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

CNN.com

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that separating black and white children was unconstitutional because it denied black children the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. “In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote. “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Linda Brown (center) and her sister Terry Lynn (far right) sit on a bus as they ride to the racially segregated Monroe Elementary School, Topeka, Kansas, March 1953. The Brown family initiated the landmark Civil Rights lawsuit ‘Brown V. Board of Education,’ that led to the beginning of integration in the US education system. (Photo by Carl Iwasaki/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

“We are to be grateful for the family that stood up for what is right,” said Democratic state Rep. Annie Kuether of Topeka. “That made a difference to the rest of the world.”

(Source: Bloomberg)

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