Linda Brown, who was at center of Brown v. Board case, dies

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 HISTORIC Linda Brown was part of a landmark case challenging school segregation

Linda's sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, the founding president of Mission-based The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, confirmed the death.

Linda Brown was born on February 20, 1943, in Topeka to Leola and Oliver Brown. But it began with Brown's father Oliver, who in 1950 tried to enroll her at the Sumner School, an all-white elementary school in Topeka. Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP's special counsel and lead counsel for the plaintiffs, argued the case before the Supreme Court.

The high court, in its unanimous May 14, 1954, decision in the case, ruled that racial segregation was a violation of the equal protection clause of the US Constitution's 14th Amendment. Kansas schools at the time were segregated by state law.

"Linda Brown, lead plaintiff in our landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, has died", the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Legal Defense Fund said on Twitter.

Linda Carol Brown was born February 20, 1943, according to the funeral home. She later attended an integrated middle school, where she was sometimes hounded by journalists who tracked her grades (she reportedly never earned "less than a B" on her year-end report card), and an integrated high school in Springfield, Mo.

"They were told, 'Find the nearest white school to your home and take your child or children and a witness, and attempt to enroll in the fall, and then come back and tell us what happened, ' " she said. "I played with children that were white, children that were Indian, and black children in my neighborhood", she said.

Linda Brown Smith stands in front of the Sumner School in Topeka, Kan., on May 8, 1964.

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Brown died Sunday afternoon in Topeka, Kansas, the spokesman said.

'My father was like a lot of other black parents here in Topeka at that time.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court threw out the prevailing "separate but equal" doctrine, which had allowed racial segregation in the schools as long as students of all races were afforded equal facilities.

"Her legacy is not only here but nationwide", Kansas Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis told The Capital-Journal.

Just three years later her father's efforts - working with the parents of five other black children who also rallied to integrate schools - would change the face of public schools forever.

On May 4, 1987 both of the elementary schools she attended - Monroe and Sumner - became National Historic Landmarks. "And this is one of the reasons that he became involved in this suit, because he felt that it was wrong for his child to have to go so far a distance to receive a quality education".

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