Linda Brown, who was the center of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case that abolished school segregation, has passed away at the age of 75.
— NAACP (@NAACP) March 26, 2018
Brown was a young girl in 1950 when her father, Oliver Brown, went to enroll her in Sumner Elementary School just blocks away from their home. She was, of course, denied admission to the all-white elementary school in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas.
At that time, there were four African-American schools and 18 white schools in Topeka. Brown found herself and her sisters traversing 2 miles across town to the all-black school, while passing closer all-white schools.
In 1954, Oliver Brown would sue the Topeka Board of education, with Thurgood Marshall and a team of NAACP attorneys eventually winning the case, known as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The supreme court ruling overturned the concept of “separate but equal” and argued that school segregation violated the 14th amendment, which gives citizens equal protection under law.
Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said: “It was not easy for her or her family, but her sacrifice broke barriers and changed the meaning of equality in this country.”
U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings shared a similar sentiment:
Over the weekend we lost Linda Brown, who at just 9 years old became a model of heroism in the fight for equality in the U.S. We should all be thankful for her strength and determination to help put an end to “separate but equal.” My thoughts are with her family during this time.
— Elijah E. Cummings (@RepCummings) March 27, 2018
Legendary poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou also honored the life of Linda Brown:
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” Maya Angelou. We honor the life of Linda Brown the "schoolgirl at the center of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that rejected racial segregation in American schools." #LindaBrown #BrownvBoard https://t.co/y84IjCPNqt
— Maya Angelou (@DrMayaAngelou) March 27, 2018
Dr. Cheryl Brown Henderson, sister to Linda Brown, has previously joined the Rock The Schools Podcast to talk about Brown v. Board, as well as the current state of education and school choice in America. You can listen to the conversation below: