Linda Brown, a civil rights activist who was the lead name in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, which led to the prohibition of U.S. school segregation in 1954 died on Sunday. She was 76.
Born in February 1942 in Topeka, the capital of Kansas, Brown was barred from attending the elementary school four blocks away from her home in 1951 due to segregation, which allowed only white people for admission.
As Brown was an African-America, she had to travel a significant distance to attend an elementary school rather than going to Sumner School in Topeka, which was closer to her house.
“I didn’t comprehend color of skin. I only knew that I wanted to go to Sumner,” she said later.
Her father, Rev. Oliver L. Brown, an assistant minister at St. Mark’s African Methodist Episcopal Church became the lead plaintiff in the case when in 1950, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asked a group of African-American parents to attempt to enroll their children in all-white schools.
As soon as Brown and other black children’s enrollment was disqualified, the civil rights group filed a lawsuit on behalf of the 13 families, representing different states.
The case was known as Brown v. Board of Education by chance as Brown’s name happened to alphabetically top the list of plaintiffs.
The case was successfully fought and the legal team led by Thurgood Marshall, who later served as a Supreme Court Justice, won the case as the court unanimously ruled on May 17, 1954, that “school segregation violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment”.
Brown in 1985 also spoke about the case and its importance in shaping her life.
“I feel that after 30 years, looking back on Brown vs. the Board of Education, it has made an impact in all facets of life for minorities throughout the land. I really think of it in terms of what it has done for our young people, in taking away that feeling of second-class citizenship,” shehad said, Los Angeles Times reported.
Brown spent her whole life in her hometown and passed away there as well.
She was a divorcee from her first marriage, and after her second husband’s death she went on to marry William Thompson in the mid-1990s.
Her family did not issue any official statement about her death; however, the news of her demise was confirmed by the Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel in Topeka.
Kansas Governor, Jeff Colyer, also paid tribute to Brown, the woman who was at the center of a landmark case in American history.
“Sixty-four years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended segregation in public schools in America. 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,” he said.