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Beyond Brown: Pursuing the Promise Image Strip of Linda Brown walking to school, girl taking test at desk, Nettie Hunt and daughter with newspaper headline on steps of Supreme Court, present day children raising hands, children at computers
Long Road to Brown
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The History of Brown v. Board of Education Summary
In the fall of 1950, Linda Brown, a seven-year-old third grader, was denied admission to a modern elementary school just blocks from her home in Topeka, Kansas. Under the laws of segregation Linda was forced to walk six blocks to catch a school bus to a black school when there was a white school within only 7 blocks. Along with 12 other families in Topeka, Linda's family joined forces with the The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to file suit against the school district.

When the Topeka case made its way to the United States Supreme Court it was combined with four other NAACP cases from Delaware, Virginia, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. to be collectively known as Brown v. Board of Education. Thurgood Marshall, the lead attorney for the NAACP, argued before the court that separate schools for whites and blacks were inherently unequal because of the psychological damage they imposed on blacks.

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that separate schools violated the Equal Protection clause under the 14th Amendment. Brown v. Board of Education overturned decades of legally-sanctioned racial segregation in the United States, and became widely known as the most significant Supreme Court case in American history.

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