LINDA Brown, who was at the center of the 1950s court battle that led to the desegregation of US schools, has died, the organization that spearheaded the landmark legal effort said yesterday.
“Linda Brown, lead plaintiff in our landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, has died,” the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense Fund said on Twitter.
“As a young girl, her courage in the face of one of the darkest forces in American history fundamentally changed our nation. For that, we owe her our eternal gratitude,” it said.
Brown’s age was alternatively reported as 75 or 76. The cause of her death has not been made public.
Oliver Brown sought to enroll his daughter in an all-white school near the family’s home in Topeka, Kansas, but was told she had to go to an all-black school that was further away.
Instead, Brown turned to the courts for justice in a case that became part of an anti-segregation push by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) rights group.
The Kansas case was combined with others from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia as well as the capital, Washington, when they were appealed to the US Supreme Court, becoming the ground-breaking Brown v. Board of Education.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on May 17, 1954 that segregation was unconstitutional – a landmark moment in the US civil rights movement.
Sixty-four “years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended segregation in public schools in America,” Kansas governor Jeff Colyer wrote on Twitter.
“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,” Colyer said.
The American Civil Liberties Union rights group also hailed the impact of the Brown case, and Brown herself.
“The Brown decision made America a beacon of hope to the rest of the world; it taught us that we could, through the rule of law, end a kind of oppression and race-based caste system,” it said.
“Today we honour Linda Brown and all the fights we have left to win.” – AFP, March 27, 2018.