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

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

She died March 25 at 76, the Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel of Topeka told the Associated Press.

CNN has reported that Linda Brown, the young girl at the center of the landmark US Supreme Court Brown v Board of Education case has passed away. Four similar cases were combined with Brown's complaint and presented to the Supreme Court as Oliver L. Brown et al v. Board of Education of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, et al.

The Topeka girl was just nine years old when her father Oliver Brown tried to enroll her at Sumner Elementary School, an all white school in 1951.

Brown v. Board was a historic marker in the Civil Rights movement, likely the most high-profile case brought by Thurgood Marshall and the lawyers of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in their decade-plus campaign to chip away at the doctrine of "separate but equal".

The landmark case was brought before the Supreme Court by the NAACP's legal arm to challenge segregation in public schools.

On May 17, 1954, the court unanimously ruled that racial segregation violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, overturning the "separate but equal" doctrine that had stood since the 1896 case of Plessy v. Ferguson. Her passing had been confirmed by her sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, who later became known as the founding president of The Brown Foundation.

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The school district maintained four elementary schools for black children, compared with the 18 available for white children.

The court had ruled against segregation in a unanimous decision. "And this is one of the reasons that he became involved in this suit, because he felt that it was wrong for his child to have to go so far a distance to receive a quality education". Brown said in "Eyes on the Prize". Years later, she returned to Topeka and took on the civil rights mantle of her father, who died in 1961.

The American Civil Liberties Union rights group also hailed the impact of the Brown case, and Brown herself. The parents argued that because of housing patterns in Topeka, racially segregated schools remained in the city, in violation of the 1954 ruling. The court directed schools to desegregate "with all deliberate speed", but it failed to establish a firm timetable for doing so. Brown later married Leonard Buckner.

Ms. Brown Thompson worked as a teacher with the Head Start early childhood program and was a program associate at the Brown Foundation, according to the organization's website.

1991 - The Trust for Public Lands buys Monroe Elementary School.

"I remember the walk as being very long at that time", she said in 1985. "For that, we owe her our eternal gratitude", it said.

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