Linda Brown, who, as a girl, was the subject of the historic Brown v. Board of Education case that ended segregation in American schools, died on Sunday afternoon in Topeka, Kansas. Her passing had been confirmed by her sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, who later became known as the founding president of The Brown Foundation.
When Brown was 9 years old, in 1951, her father, Oliver, tried to enroll her at Sumner Elementary School near her home, which was an all-white school at the time; after the school blocked her enrollment, her father sued the Topeka Board of Education. Eventually, four other cases were combined with Brown’s complaint, effectively becoming Oliver L. Brown et al v. Board of Education of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas, et al, as it was presented to the Supreme Court. The 1954 ruling found that separate, or segregated, schools were unequal, effectively overturning Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the separate but equal doctrine, establishing Jim Crow laws.
As mentioned above, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal, Brown’s sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, who is the founding president of The Brown Foundation, confirmed her death, adding that the family would not add further comment.
According to CNN, Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel at NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, issued the following statement about Linda:
“Linda Brown is one of that special band of heroic young people who, along with her family, courageously fought to end the ultimate symbol of white supremacy — racial segregation in public schools. She stands as an example of how ordinary schoolchildren took center stage in transforming this country.”“It was not easy for her or her family, but her sacrifice broke barriers and changed the meaning of equality in this country.”
“64 years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended segregation in public schools in America. Linda Brown’s life reminds us that sometimes the most unlikely people can have an incredible impact and that by serving our community we can truly change the world.”
What was Linda Brown’s official cause of death?
At this time, Linda Brown’s official cause of death is not known. Conflicting reports did not agree on how old she had been at the time of her death; The Topeka Capital-Journal gave her age as 76 while CNN claimed she was 75.
As this story is developing, more information will be updated as made available.