New Year’s Eve Reflection on Civil Rights

New Years Eve is often celebrated as a time of reflection for memorable events of the past year.  As I was scanning my phone recently an article appeared with a link listing all of the famous individuals who passed away in 2018.

The video included many famous names known to people around the globe like President George H.W. Bush, the Bush family matriarch Barbara Pierce Bush, Senator John McCain, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the mastermind comic book artist Stan Lee, actor Burt Reynolds, designer Kate Spade, physicist Stephen Hawking, musical artist Aretha Franklin, the Reverend Billy Graham, and a long list of accomplished business leaders.

With the passing of all of these amazing people, one name on this list really stuck out to me, a name many would not know or think twice about upon hearing it. It’s a name lost amongst the glamour of the famous.

That name is Linda Brown.

Linda Brown was a young student who desired to be successful and make her family proud. To receive a good education and to just have fun being another one of the kids. Little did she know that she would be the centerpiece of one the most important events in American history, the United States Supreme Court case of Brown v Board of Education.

In the 1950s Linda was one of millions of black children forced into the oppressive system of segregation. Although she lived near a school for her grade, this school was for white students only. Linda was forced to travel over a mile away to attend a separate school for non-white children. She could not understand why she was unable to attend the same school that her white neighbors did. This was a heartbreaking conversation for Linda’s parents to have with her in telling her she was unequal simply because of the color of her skin. Linda’s father, Pastor Oliver Brown, vowed to act.

The Browns tried to enroll Linda into the local whites-only school, but were rejected.

This led 13 Topeka, Kansas, parents of black children to sue the local school board for violations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.  They hoped to overturn an earlier Supreme Court decision, Plessy v Ferguson, that established what is known as “separate but equal.”

Linda’s father, Pastor Oliver Brown, and the NAACP fought all the way to the United States Supreme Court and won in an unanimous decision, shooting down the law policy of “separate but equal.”

Chief United States Supreme Court Justice Warren stated, “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Brown v Board is a monumental case in American history that changed our society’s way of life forever. It is routinely referred to in any government class from elementary school through college as a pillar of Constitutional Law.

A New Year’s Eve reflection can often show how blessed we truly are in the grand scheme of life. It was not that long ago when children were forced into segregation and denied educational opportunities based on the color of their skin.

Even though our society has made great strides forward, we still have many issues to remain vigilant on. We cannot always rely on those behind the desk to make a change. Sometimes, as in the case of Linda Brown and her father, the most powerful force is the love of a parent, accompanied by the good faith of a child.