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Linda Brown, Center of Watershed Desegregation

Flawed History Brown v Board of Education 

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Linda Brown, Center of Watershed Desegregation Case, Dies at 76 by Ed Kilgore

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Linda Brown standing outside the school the Topeka School Board would not let her attend, the year before SCOTUS stepped in and ordered desegregation. Photo: Carl Iwasaki/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

Linda Brown, the 12-year-old girl who was the subject of the unanimous 1954 Supreme Court decision that outlawed formal school segregation, died today at the age of 76.

Linda’s father, Oliver, was actually the plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education. He filed suit after the school board would not let him enroll Linda in an all-white elementary school near their home. By the time the case reached SCOTUS, it had been consolidated with challenges to segregated school systems in three other states (and the District of Columbia). But it was always known by Brown’s name.

While Brown dealt an ultimately fatal blow to the constitutionality of formally (or “de jure”) segregated schools, overruling the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision that allowed “separate but equal” facilities for different races, the 1954 decision began a long and difficult process of achieving educational equity that continues today. Brown itself required that states undertake desegregation with “all deliberate speed,” which enabled many years of foot-dragging and indirect strategies for maintaining mostly segregated schools, ranging from “freedom of choice” plans that let white parents move their kids out of integrated schools to the fight against “busing” to achieve something like racial balance. To read more go to the link below:


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