In a time where there were 18 all-white schools and only two schools for black children, Oliver Brown decided to enroll his daughter in Sumner Elementary School, the all-white school closest to their home. When the school refused to admit his daughter, he would file a lawsuit and take his case all the way to the supreme court leading to the landmark ruling in Brown v. The Board of Education, desegregating schools, ruling separate public schools for black children unconstitutional.
Linda Brown, the student at the center of the consequential court case, died Sunday at the age of 75.
Governor Jeff Colyer tweeted "Sixty-four years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended legal segregation in public schools in America." Adding, "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."
Under the counsel of Thurgood Marshall, Brown v. Board was combined with four other school segregation cases, Briggs v. Elliot, Davis v. Board of Education of Prince Edward County, Boiling v. Sharpe, and Gebhart v. Ethel when the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously to overturn the 1896 ruling of Plessy v. Ferguson.
It would take three years, more legal battles and protests before segregation in schools ceased. Federal troops stood guard as the Little Rock 9 integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
When speaking about the court case in 1985, Linda Brown commented, "I feel that 30 years, looking back on Brown v. The Board of Education, it has made an impact in all facets of life for minorities throughout the land. I think of it regarding what it has done for our young people, in taking away that feeling of second-class citizenship. I think it has made the dreams, hopes, and aspirations of our young people greater, today."
In a statement, Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said, "The life of every American has been touched by Linda Brown. This country is indebted to her, the Brown family, and the many other families involved in the cases that successfully challenged school segregation."