Daughter of plaintiff in historic case visits Summit City

Summary of Moore Tornado

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –  This year marks the 60th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court Case, Oliver Brown, et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, et al. or more commonly known as Brown versus the Board of Education, which ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Tuesday evening, a daughter of the plaintiff in the case, Oliver Brown, spoke to the community at the Grand Wayne Center as Indiana Tech Law School’s first Distinguished Lecturer.

Cherlyn Brown Henderson said her purpose was to educate people on the background of the historic case. Her father was selected to be the namesake of the case because he was the only male out of the thirteen parents involved representing their twenty children, collectively.

“People were misled to thinking that it was something my father did on his own, when the NAACP as a national organization made the decision,” Brown Henderson said.

She said there are a lot of facts about Brown v. Board that many people don’t know such as the names and ages of the people involved and that it took years to come to fruition because the initial case was filed in February of 1951. The case began in Brown-Henderson’s hometown of Topeka, Kansas, but was eventually combined with four other cases in places like Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Even though the ruling was a success, there were some difficult consequences.

“The most challenging thing were [African-American] educators losing their jobs…because the white superintendent at the time said if it was successful there wouldn’t be enough white parents wanting them to teach their children.

Brown-Henderson said she’s proud of the progress over the last 60 years, but she said there are still educational battles to be fought like equalizing funding for public education.

The Supreme Court handed down the ruling on the case May 17, 1954.


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