Linda Brown, the student at the center of the Brown v. Board of Education civil rights case, has passed away at age 76.
Brown’s sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson, confirmed the news to The Topeka Capital-Journal, adding that her family would make no further comment on Brown’s death.
The 1954 landmark case saw the US Supreme Court reject racial segregation in American schools after several families set out to dismantle education laws that allowed the division. Brown’s father, Oliver, kicked off the case after trying to enroll her in an all-white elementary school near their home.
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Carolyn Campbell, a longtime friend who attended Topeka High School with Brown, told the publication, “Linda was quiet. It was difficult for Linda to be pushed into the spotlight at a young age.”
Brown later became vocal in the fight to desegregate schools, traveling around the country to talk about her experience in Topeka.
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer tweeted Monday, “Sixty-four years ago a young girl from Topeka brought a case that ended segregation in public schools in America. Linda Brown’s life reminds us that sometimes the most unlikely people can have an incredible impact and that by serving our community we can truly change the world.”
Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, shared in a statement via HuffPost: “The life of every American has been touched by Linda Brown. This country is indebted to her, the Brown family, and the many other families involved in the cases that successfully challenged school segregation.”