Before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955, there was Oliver Brown and his 12 year old daughter Linda facing off with the Kansas Board of Education in a battle that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court before ending segregation in schools.
It all began when Brown tried to enroll Linda in an all white school only a few blocks away from their home instead of sending her miles away by bus to the segregated school. While the Browns were not the only family involved in the case, it was Pastor Brown who spearheaded the events that brought about the landmark case.
But it would be another three years before the ruling was tested when nine students in Little Rock, Arkansas entered an all white school escorted by federal guards.
Brown admitted years later that she did not understand why she had to be bused across town when her whit neighbours and playmates could simply walk a few blocks away to school.
Linda Brown died in Topeka, Kansas on March 25 at the age of 76. No official cause of death has been revealed.
She was born on February 20, 1942 in Topeka, Kansas the oldest of three girls. The case that bears her name began in 1950 when her father tried to enroll her in the all white school only four blocks away from their home in an integrated neighbourhood. While other families were a part of the case, Brown was the first name listed due to an alphabetical listing.
The NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People – took up the case with Thurgood Marshall as the lead attorney. Marshall later became the first person of colour to sit on the bench of the Supreme Court.
As an adult she became an activist for equal education and civil rights issues. In 1979, she picked up where her father had left off when the school system failed to follow through with the Supreme Court ruling.
Brown’s survivors include daughter Kimberly and her sister Cheryl.