This week, our nation mourned the passing of Linda Brown Smith, a prominent civil rights activist, who as a little girl, became famous as the central figure in the ground-breaking Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case.
When she was just 9 years old, her father, Oliver Brown, joined with 12 other Topeka-area black families in attempting to enroll their children in whites-only schools. After their children were denied enrollment, the group filed the historic class action lawsuit that changed the course of public education in America by outlawing racial segregation.
Her death got me reminiscing about my first teaching experience, which happened to be at East Topeka Jr. High School, in Topeka, Kansas, the center of the controversy.
As I wrote about in my musical blog yesterday, when I started working at the school, I was a young Caucasian Texas woman with limited life experience. The opportunity to teach in such a diverse school was truly a gift that changed my life, opening my mind to the power of diversity.
Rest in peace, Linda Brown.
© Tyra Manning 2018