Linda Brown, a young African-American girl in Topeka, who is responsible for the infamous court case of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case, has died at the age of 75. This Supreme Court case is responsible for ultimately diminishing school segregation. Her sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, president of the Brown Foundation, confirmed her death but made no more comments on the occasion.
After attempting to enroll Brown into Sumner Elementary School and being unsuccessful, her father, Oliver Brown, he became the lead petitioner in the Brown vs. Board case. He was told that his daughter had to attend an all-black school, which fueled him to finally take a stand against this racial injustice. In 1954, the Supreme Court collectively ruled that the whole situation (‘separate but equal’ schools) violated the 14th Amendment, which advocates equality to all U.S. citizens, meaning Brown. Because of this young girl’s courage and her father’s righteous zeal for justice, the diversity is schools is now something that is accepted all across the nation. And not only is it becoming more acceptable, it is also becoming more celebratory among each other.
So many will remember Brown for her impeccable courage to stand firm for what is right—and at the youthful age of nine years old. Topeka mayor, Michelle De La Isla, says, “This is a huge loss to our community. We will continue to champion civil rights. When you look at the diversity of our community, I think we’re already honoring her legacy.” During the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board, Reverend Jesse Jackson boldly stated, “God has a way of taking the ordinary people in sub-ordinary positions, exalting them to extraordinary heights and then they become the frame of reference. So Topeka is on the map not because of the richest family in Topeka—nobody knows who that is nor does anybody care. Linda Brown’s name, and her father’s name, will live eternally.”
This goes to show how far a little courage will take someone. Brown and her father could have stayed defeated. Imagine if they did. What would schools look like today? And if the schools were still segregated, how much would that affect everyone else living their everyday lives? Linda Brown’s legacy will not die because the impact is still colossal in the continuous fight to bring racism to its knees and have diversity renowned.
The fight is still strong. Bigotry has not ceased. But what a difference a small measure of courage makes in fighting this battle. Brown and her father will not be forgotten.
Below: Linda Brown posing in front of Sumner Elementary School in 1964