Home / NEWS / Linda Brown, girl at centre of school desegregation case, dies at 76

Linda Brown, girl at centre of school desegregation case, dies at 76

The civil rights activist who as a Kansas schoolgirl was at the heart of the US Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision outlawing racial segregation in American public schools, has died at age 76.

Linda Brown died on Sunday in her hometown of Topeka, Kansas, according to Robin Bruce, the administrator for the Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel. Mr Bruce said he was not at liberty to provide additional information on the circumstances of her death.

The historic legal action began when Brown’s father tried to enroll his children in an all-white school in Topeka.

Her death brought a string of tributes from civil rights groups and those involved in the case.

The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, which brought the action, hailed Brown and her family’s contribution to what it called “the most important, transformational Supreme Court decision of the 20th century.”

“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,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-general of the NAACP’s legal defence fund.

Brown’s father, Oliver Brown, who died in 1961, was the named plaintiff in the case filed on his daughter’s behalf and combined with several similar lawsuits contesting the “separate but equal” doctrine underpinning racial segregation.

Linda Brown was a third-grader in an all-black elementary school more than 2 miles from her house when her father first tried in 1951 to enroll her in the all-white elementary school several blocks away and was rebuffed.

Linda Brown with her two children in 1974

Credit:
AP

The ensuing court case was handled and argued by the NAACP’s lead attorney, Thurgood Marshall, who went on years later to be appointed the first African-American justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court, in its unanimous May 14, 1954, decision in the case, ruled that racial segregation was a violation of the equal protection clause of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment. A year later, the high court handed down a plan for how desegregation was to be carried out, ruling that it should proceed with “all deliberate speed”.

“Sixty-four years ago, a young girl from Topeka, Kansas sparked a case that ended segregation in public schools in America,” Jeff Colyer, governor of Kansas said in a statement. “Linda Brown’s life reminds us that by standing up for our principles and serving our communities we can truly change the world.

“Linda’s legacy is a crucial part of the American story and continues to inspire the millions who have realized the American dream because of her.”

Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/27/linda-brown-girl-centre-school-desegregation-case-dies-76/

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