Linda Brown, the face behind the Brown vs. Board case, dies

The face behind the iconic Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education case that ended segregation in American schools, Linda Brown, died on Sunday afternoon in Topeka, Kansas.

Brown was 9 years old in 1951 when her father, Oliver Brown, tried to enroll her at Sumner Elementary School, then an all-white school near her Topeka home. When the school blocked her enrollment, her father sued the Topeka Board of Education. Four similar cases were combined with Brown’s complaint and presented to the Supreme Court as Oliver L. Brown et al v. Board of Education of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, et al.

While her name will forever be a part of American civil rights history, her contributions to the community after the case are part of her legacy, too, longtime friend Carolyn Campbell said.

The court ruled in May 1954 that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” a violation of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, which states that no citizen can be denied equal protection under the law.
Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP’s special counsel and lead counsel for the plaintiffs, argued the case before the Supreme Court.

The ruling overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the separate but equal doctrine that formed the legal basis for Jim Crow laws. The court directed schools to desegregate “with all deliberate speed,” but it failed to establish a firm timetable for doing so. The Supreme Court would outline the process of school desegregation in Brown II in 1955, but it would take years for schools across the nation to fully comply.

“Linda Brown is one of that special band of heroic young people who, along with her family, courageously fought to end the ultimate symbol of white supremacy — racial segregation in public schools. She stands as an example of how ordinary schoolchildren took center stage in transforming this country,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Linda Brown will forever be remembered as the little girl who fought all odds to be treated equally, both for herself and for her race.

 

Story sourced from CNN News

Compiled by Lavanya Narayanan