Timeline Capsule
Time Capsule Details | BeingBlackToday.com

Linda Brown Smith, Age 9
Brown v. Board of Education
Racial Segregation Banned In Public Schools By U.S. Supreme Court

In 1951, Linda Brown Smith was a 9 years old, 3rd grade student when her father started a class-action suit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. She had been denied admission to her local elementary school because she was Black. Combined with several other cases, her suit reached the Supreme Court.

Oliver Leon Brown
Welder, Minister, Civil Rights Leader
1903 – 1961

Oliver Brown, father of Linda Brown, was convinced by a childhood friend to join a lawsuit against the Board of Education. He was a welder by trade, and minister by profession. His daughter had to walk six blocks to catch a school bus to ride to her school, one mile away, because she was prohibited from attending an all white school seven blocks from her home.

Thurgood Marshall
1st Black Member of Supreme Court
(as Associate Justice)
1908 – 1993

The Supreme Court broke with long tradition and unanimously overrule the “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. The recently appointed Chief Justice Earl Warrant wrote an opinion that de jure (upheld by law) segregation in public schools violated the principle of equal protection under the law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And in response to arguments presented by NAACP lawyers led by Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court further stressed that the “badge of inferiority” stamped on minority children by segregation hindered their full development no matter how “equal” physical facilities might be.

The decision by the Supreme Court, however, did not succeed in fully desegregating public schools, but placed the law on the side of racial equality.