In September 1950, Oliver Brown walked his young daughter to her neighborhood school in Topeka, Kansas. When he tried to enroll her in the all-white Sumner School, however, she was denied a spot because she was black. The rejection set in motion one of the most famous court cases in United States History, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The 1954 Supreme Court decision that followed struck down the half-century old “separate-but-equal” standard, ushering in an era of school de-segregation. On Sunday, Linda Brown, the little girl at the center of that monumental ruling, died in Topeka at the age of 75, Neil Genzlinger at The New York Times reports.
Mary Louise Smith (born in 1937)
On Oct. 21 1955, Smith boarded a Montgomery bus on her way home. The bus driver asked Smith to give up her seat to a white passenger but she refused to do so. At only 18-years-old, Smith became one of the sparks of the burgeoning civil rights movement when she was arrested for defying the unjust segregation law. Her father bailed her out of jail and they took immediate action. This event happened only 40 days before Rosa Parks was arrested. Smith did not become the face of the movement because her father was an alcoholic and the NAACP thought that would not look well.
The Creation of Orange Mound
In 1890, white developer E. E. Meacham purchased land from the Deaderick family, plantation owners in Memphis Tennessee. He sold lots to African-Americans for less than $100. The subdivision was named Orange Mound and became the first all Black community in the U.S., specifically built for Black people. According to Laura Nickas for Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, “The new neighborhood bordered the Mid-South Fairgrounds to the southeast while a stronghold of the KKK bordered the fairgrounds just to the west.”
In 1929, Dr. Horace Mann Bond, social science researcher, historian and father of the late Julian Bond, participated in a field study of Black student achievement in North Carolina, Alabama, and Louisiana. Visiting more than 700 schools across these states, Dr. Bond and his wife, Julia, administered standardized tests and photographed the educational experiences of close to 10,000 students.
His Early Life
Booker T. Washington (April 5, 1856-Nov. 14, 1915) is known for creating Tuskegee University, delivering the Atlanta Compromise speech, and his public rivalry with W.E.B Dubois. Washington was born to a Black woman and a white plantation owner who has not been named. Between 1856 and 65, Washington moved from Virginia to West Virginia were he began working at the salt furnaces at nine years-old. Washington’s mother taught him to read, inciting a life-long fervor for education.