A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.
- 1 of 12
- 2 of 12
- 3 of 12
- 4 of 12
- 5 of 12
- 6 of 12
- 7 of 12
- 8 of 12
- 9 of 12
- 10 of 12
- 11 of 12
- 12 of 12
A bench dedicated Tuesday to honor a pioneer of the civil rights movement was illustrated with a history project by two sixth-graders in the Springfield Scholars Program at Central High School.
Madeleine Bauer and Elseya Ligon researched the life of 1961 Central graduate Linda Brown and then created a video to celebrate her legacy. Her family was the namesake of the 1954 landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which desegregated America’s public schools.
“We knew we wanted to do something with African-American rights and integration,” said Ligon. “…We were kind of walking around the school and we realized, ‘Oh, Linda Brown went here, that would be a good thing to focus on because that could honor her and the school.'”
The video, originally created for the annual National History Day program, was shown Tuesday in the Central library in front of top Springfield officials, community leaders, and Central teachers and classmates.
Following the video, the crowd gathered in the west lawn of Central to dedicate the bench. It was installed earlier this year.
Principal Lisa Anderson said the Heritage Team at Central, comprised of Central educators, wanted to honor Linda Brown last year while planning the historic high school’s 125th birthday celebration.
In the late 1950s, the Brown family relocated from Topeka to Springfield when the Rev. Oliver Brown — Linda’s father — became pastor of the Benton Avenue A.M.E. church located near Central. She enrolled in Central in 1959 and graduated in 1961.
“Many people in our community aren’t aware that Linda Brown attended and graduated from Central High School,” said Anderson, in a news release.
“All of the things that Linda Brown and her father did during that time, we want to commemorate. We want to honor their work while continuing it, working together to make strides to be inclusive. Ensuring all populations of people are included and accepted is a way to honor her memory.”
In 2000, Central also dedicated a plaque in Linda Brown’s memory.
The bench, which cost $1,434, has the following words etched: “In memory of Linda Brown, 1943-2018, CHS Class of 1961.”
This sentence is also included: “May her courage be an inspiration to all.”
Natalie Murdock, executive director of the Springfield Public Schools Foundation, said the Virgil Anderson and Leslie Gritzmaker Fund provided funding for the bench.
“The foundation is really honored to be able to recognize Linda Brown and her entire family for the impact they had on our whole world,” Murdock said. “They made a real difference in all of our lives.”
Springfield NAACP, faith leaders demand action, accountability after racist video
Drury to honor pioneering civil rights family with Springfield ties at graduation