19:06, March 26 310 0 theguardian.com

2018-03-26 19:06:04
Linda Brown, Kansas student whose case ended school segregation, dies at 76

Linda Brown, the Kansas girl at the center of the 1954 supreme court ruling that struck down racial segregation in American schools, has died. She was 76.

Topeka’s former Sumner School was all-white when Brown’s father, Oliver, tried to enroll the family. He became lead plaintiff in the 1954 Brown v Board of Education supreme court decision that ended school segregation.

The landmark case began after several black families in Topeka were turned down when they tried to enroll their children in white schools near their homes. It was brought before the supreme court by the legal arm of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and joined with cases from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

On 17 May 1954, the supreme court ruled unanimously that separating black and white children was unconstitutional because it denied black children the 14th amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.

“In the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” chief justice Earl Warren wrote. “Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Peaceful Rest Funeral Chapel of Topeka confirmed that Linda Brown died on Sunday afternoon. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Brown’s sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, founding president of the Brown Foundation, confirmed the death to the Topeka Capital-Journal. She declined comment from the family.

Kansas deputy education commissioner Dale Dennis said Brown’s legacy was not only in the state but nationwide. The effect she had “on our society would be unbelievable and insurmountable”, he said.

Kansas governor Jeff Colyer said: “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.”

Democratic state representative Annie Kuether of Topeka said: “We are to be grateful for the family that stood up for what is right. That made a difference to the rest of the world.”