Ms. Linda Brown passed away on March 25th, at the age of 75. History will remember her as the Plaintiff in one of the most famous Supreme Court cases in American history.
Linda Brown, the Plaintiff in the case, was nine years old in 1951 when she wasn’t allowed to go to the school of her choice because she was black. Her case made it all the way to US Supreme Court, and the rest is history.
Brown v. Board of Education is a landmark case in civil rights history and might be the most notable US Supreme Court decision ever. In that case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregation (“separate but equal”) was unconstitutional.
Her father — the Rev. Oliver L. Brown, an assistant minister at St. Mark’s African Methodist Episcopal Church — was just one of 13 plaintiffs who sought to ensure the city of Topeka fully integrated the rest of its schools.
According to the Washington Post, “He was recruited by the NAACP, which had organized four other class-action lawsuits challenging high school segregation in South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia. According to the Brown Foundation, which promotes the history of the case, Oliver Brown was named the lead plaintiff “as a legal strategy to have a man at the head of the roster.”
The suits were put together and were successfully argued by an NAACP legal team led by Thurgood Marshall, who later became a Supreme Court justice. The court unanimously ruled on May 17, 1954, that school segregation violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
That landmark decision remains one of the most significant legal decisions in American judicial history. Ms. Brown was a third grader who wanted to go to school with her friends. She ended up changing the course of American history.
We are sad to hear of Linda Brown’s passing – she was a groundbreaking person who made a big difference for future generations. Her legacy and the landmark decision of Brown v. Board of Education will remain.