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

Linda Brown center of Brown v. Board case dies at 76

Brown, who went on to the symbol of one of the victories blacks in America gained during the segregation era, is said to have died on Sunday in Topeka.

Born in 1943, Brown was in third grade in 1950 when she was denied admission to an all-white elementary school in her hometown of Topeka. When the school blocked her enrollment her father sued the Topeka Board of Education. "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". He did not specify the cause, and sources conflict on her age, either 75 or 76.

Campbell described her as a "very quiet person, but spiritual, patient and very kind". "When you look at the diversity of our community, I think we're already honoring her legacy".

Nor were her parents dissatisfied with the black school she was attending. She later worked as an educational consultant and public speaker.

In 1954, the groundbreaking Supreme Court decision marked a pivotal point in American history by declaring racial segregation in schools to be unconstitutional.

"She stands as an example of how ordinary schoolchildren took center stage in transforming this country", Ifill said.

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"It was not easy for her or her family, but her sacrifice broke barriers and changed the meaning of equality in this country".

Handing down the unanimous ruling, the court said: "In the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place". The court directed schools to desegregate "with all deliberate speed", but it failed to establish a firm timetable for doing so.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer paid tribute to Linda Brown after news of her death spread. According to the Brown Foundation, which promotes the history of the case, Oliver Brown was named the lead plaintiff "as a legal strategy to have a man at the head of the roster".

The 9-0 decision - Chief Justice Earl Warren thought it important that the court speak unanimously on such a hot-button issue - was one of the biggest victories the civil-rights movement achieved, and its logic eventually spread to institutions beyond public schools.

As a mother of two children who had attended racially diverse schools, she said, "By them going to an integrated school, they are advancing much more rapidly than I was at the age that they are now". "I played with children that were white, children that were Indian, and black children in my neighborhood".

High schools and junior high schools were integrated, too, she said. At the same time, schools with 90 percent white student populations fell from 39 percent to 18 percent. What upset Oliver Brown was the distance Linda had to travel to get to school - first a walk through a rail yard and across a busy road, then a bus ride. "I remember the steps being so big and I was so small". She lived 20 blocks from her segregated school, but just five blocks from the all-white school. He attempted to enroll her in Sumner Elementary School in 1951.

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