Linda Brown of Brown V. Board Dies At 75

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In 1951, Linda Brown was just a little girl of nine years old when her parents wanted her to go to a school of her choice. But being told that she had to go to a segregated all Black school, her parents took to the courts which led to the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education that we now live under today.

That little girl has grown up, lived a full life and died Sunday, March 25th. She was 75, according to the National Archives, though her date of birth has also been reported as 1942. An obituary is expected to be available Tuesday.

The Brown family long has emphasized the importance many other plaintiffs played in Brown v. Board, saying their family has been given an larger-than-life starring role.

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Linda Brown was in grade school when she was propelled into the growing civil rights movement of the time.

Her father, Oliver Brown, became the lead plaintiff in the Brown v. Board of Education case after attempting to enroll the third-grader in 1951 in the all-white Sumner Elementary School near the family’s home in Topeka.

He was refused and told his daughter had to attend the all-black Monroe School, about two miles from their home. The Topeka school district maintained 18 elementary schools for white children and four for black children.

“I had playmates different ethnic backgrounds that I played with,” explains Linda in a 1984 interview with ABC News. “I had Indian friends, Mexican-American friends and white friends. And when September came, they took their school books in hand and walked four blocks to an all white school. But it was very different for me being a Black child. I took a school bus two miles across town to an all black school. Being a child at that age, I didn’t understand why I could not just walk four blocks to go to same school with the friends I played with daily because of the color of my skin.”

Oliver Brown responded by joining a dozen other plaintiffs in the NAACP’s legal challenge of segregated schooling in Kansas. Cases from the District of Columbia and four states — South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and Kansas — were consolidated into Brown v. Board of Education.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1954 that “separate but equal” schools violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

The decision effectively overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation, insofar as it applied to public education. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous (9–0) decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Topeka mayor Michelle De La Isla, called Linda Brown a role model for empowerment who made the city…