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Linda Brown Smith,Linda Brown

Linda Brown Smith

Linda Brown, one of the children at the center of the landmark “Brown v. Topeka Board of Education” case, has passed. In adulthood, Brown became an educator and activist, fighting against school segregation well after the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Brown was born February 21, 1942 in Topeka, Kansas. The local NAACP recruited 13 parents to 20 Black students who all were barred from attending all-white elementary schools. In the city, all schools were racially integrated save for the elementary schools. In Brown’s case, all-white Summer Elementary denied her entry and she had to travel a great distance to attend all-black Monroe Elementary.

In 1951, the 13 plaintiffs filed a class action suit against the Topeka Board of Education with Linda Brown’s father, Oliver Brown, a pastor and welder, as the leading name. The NAACP felt that a man’s name leading the suit would give it more weight. With the national NAACP’s legal support, the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court and was decided in May of 1954, putting desegregating schools into effect across the nation.

Brown remained in Topeka, and attended Washburn University and Kansas State University before becoming a wife and mother. She also worked as an educational consultant content to live away from the public eye. However, she was recruited by the ACLU to reopen the case after the organization discovered schools were still divided racially, skirting the law. Courts found that ACLU’s findings were accurate and the Topeka school district built three new schools to address the issues in 1993.

Details of Brown’s passing have not been released. She was 75.

 

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(Photo Credit:Associated Press)

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