As the country celebrates the 65th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, the case is frequently recalled as one who “for all time changed the course of American records.”
But the tale behind the ancient Supreme Court case, as I plan to show in my approaching ebook, Blacks Against Brown: The Black Anti-Integration Movement in Topeka, Kansas, 1941-1954, is lots extra complex than the tremendously erroneous however often-repeated tale about how the lawsuit began. The story that regularly gets instructed is that – as mentioned on this information tale – the case commenced with Oliver Brown, who tried to enroll his daughter, Linda, on the Sumner School, an all-white fundamental school in Topeka near the Browns’ home. Or that Oliver Brown was a “determined father who took Linda Brown by means of the hand and made records.”
As my studies indicate, that story is at odds with two exquisite ancient ironies of Brown v. Board. The first irony is that Oliver Brown became definitely a reluctant participant in the Supreme Court case that could end up named after him. In truth, Oliver Brown, a reserved man, needed to be convinced to sign on to the lawsuit because he changed into a brand new pastor at church that did not need to get concerned in Topeka NAACP’s desegregation lawsuit, according to diverse Topekans whose memories are recorded within the Brown Oral History Collection at the Kansas State Historical Society.
The 2d irony is that of the five nearby desegregation cases delivered earlier than the Supreme Court with the aid of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1953, Brown’s case – officially called Oliver Brown et al., v. Board of Education of Topeka, et al. – ended upbringing large interest to a metropolis where many blacks truly resisted faculty integration. That now not-so-small element has been overshadowed by means of the way the case is provided in history.
Black resistance to integration
While faculty desegregation may also have symbolized racial development for many blacks at some point of use a that certainly was now not the case in Topeka, in reality, most of the resistance to the NAACP’s college desegregation efforts in Topeka got here from Topeka’s black citizens, now not whites.
“I didn’t get anything from white oldsters,” Leola Brown Sir Bernard Law, spouse of Oliver and mom of Linda, recalled. “I let you know here in Topeka, in contrast to the opposite places in which they introduced these cases, we didn’t have any threats” from whites. Prior to the Brown case, black Topekans were embroiled in a decade-lengthy struggle over segregated faculties that commenced with a lawsuit regarding Topeka’s junior excessive colleges. According to high school board mins, when the Topeka School Board commissioned a ballot to decide black help for included junior excessive faculties in 1941, sixty-five percent of black dad and mom with junior high school students indicated that they preferred all-black schools.
Separate however same
Another wrinkle to the story is that the metropolis’s four all-black primary colleges – Buchanan, McKinley, Monroe, and Washington – had sources, centers, and curricula that had been similar to that of Topeka’s white schools. The Topeka college board truly adhered to the “separate-but-equal” well-known hooked up by the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case.
Even Linda Brown recalled the all-black Monroe Elementary School that she attended as a “very exceptional facility, being thoroughly-stored.”