Linda Brown, whose landmark Supreme Court case desegregated schools, has passed away.
Another civil rights icon is gone, leaving a legacy that made things better for all of us.
The New York Daily News reports that Linda died March 25 at the age of 76. Her passing was confirmed by her sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson.
Linda was the top plaintiff in Brown v. the Board of Education. At just 9 years old, she became the face of school desegregation when a school in Topeka, Kansas, refused to let her enroll because she was Black.
In 1951, she had to walk six blocks to get to a bus stop that would take her to a Black school about a mile away. However, she lived much closer to the White school in her neighborhood, which was only seven blocks away. The trek to the bus stop was often difficult for the young girl.
“I was a very young child when I started walking to school,” Linda recalled during an interview for the documentary, Eyes on the Prize. “Being a young child, when I first started the walk it was very frightening to me, and then when wintertime came, it was a very cold walk. I remember that. I remember walking, tears freezing up on my face, because I began to cry because it was so cold, and many times I had to turn around and run back home.”
At the time, White politicians, teachers, and lawyers, firmly supported the idea of “separate but equal.” However, 13 parents decided to fight against the Jim Crow era law to open up educational options for their 20 kids. While other plaintiffs were listed in the case, Linda’s father, Oliver Brown, was the first name in the list of plaintiffs. He was fighting on behalf of Linda.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund argued the case, and Thurgood Marshall was the lead lawyer for that legal team. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, and in 1954 it was ruled that the”separate but equal” mandate was unconstitutional. Marshall would later become a Supreme Court Justice himself, and Linda effected immense change for the generations to follow.
There is no word on funeral arrangements or memorial services in her honor at this time.