Carrol Daily Times Herald from Carroll, Iowa on May 8, 1974 · Page 9
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Carrol Daily Times Herald from Carroll, Iowa · Page 9

Carroll, Iowa
Issue Date:
Wednesday, May 8, 1974
Page 9
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Recycling History: Topeka Schools in Trouble Again Over Segregation By Mike Hail TOFEKA. Kan. — (NEA) — It's been 20 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states may not maintain segregated schools and the case citation tells us that ruling started right here in Topeka. This May 17. the 20th anniversary of the historic decision, finds the Topeka public schools in legal trouble again over racial segregation — but for different reasons than in 1954. Twenty years ago the school district was sued for preventing non-white children from going to the elementary school nearest their homes. This year the district is in trouble with the U.S. Department of Health. Education and Welfare because it does allow children to go to the school nearest their homes, regardless of their race. In 1951, when Linda Brown was a fourth grader at Monroe Elementary School. Topeka schools were segregated. Under a Kansas law of 1867. any city of more than 15.000 popllkl t ion \v;is ;ill(HVi.'i! — hut not i'r<|i;!'v<: ID in;yii;!;iin separate elementary schools for white and minority «:turionts. A.s a result, the white children from Linda's neighborhood went to Sumner elementary school four blocks away while she walked six blocks to catch a school bus to take her another 15 blocks to the all-black Monroe school. One spring day. her father. the Rev. Oliver Brown, took her by the hand and walked the four blocks to Sumner. Ho tried to enroll her in the fifth grade there for the following fall, but he was refused. He was one of several parents who joined with the Topeka chapter of the NAACP in its effort to overturn the segregated system. The case was taken to the federal district court in Topeka with Brown's name at the top of a list of 33 plaintiffs. The three-judge panel here decided against them and they NEW OPENING HOURS Mon. — Tues. - Thurs. — Sat. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wed & Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m FRIGIDAIRE WE'VE GONE ALL OUT TO MAKE THIS ONE OFJHE BIGGEST SALE EVENTS OF 1974' Special Prices Ends May 18th FREE when you purchase a Frigidaire Automatic Washer or "Skinny-Mini" 1 years supply of taWIII S'iLer SWB SAVE! * Washes ik drys Family si/ed loads * Only 24" wide * Requires no special wiring •00 FREE 4 cases King Sized Coke with any frost proo Refrigerator IN r: ^J Big Family Sized Frigidaire 17' Refrigerator * Frost-proof Frccxer * Deep door shelves * 2 cold controls COMPARE - SAVE oo SPERRV AND HUTCHINSON 3600 S & H Green Stamps] FREE with the purchase of any FRIGIDAIRE RANGE $1 OOOO as low as I Waiters is your Dependability Store - We've serviced area residents for 3 gen- crations! OTHERS DEALERS HAVE COME AND GONE! Wallers have remained to insure your investment in quality appliances. JfX * LUl I MILL SPfHHY AND HUTCHINSON At. U I I MILL •••••••• SPfRRY AND HUTCHINSON V«Ll/l I MILL • ••••••• SPCBHY AND HUTCHINSON USE YOUR CREDI 90 DAY FREE INTEREST For "Pink Fleet" Service Phone 464-3281 V* L O t I MILL r- I lyi. ,,UI . IP. flPPLIflnCE CEHTER or 792-2696 Carroll Phone 792-2525 Lake City Phone 464-3281 Time's Herald, Carroll, la. «[ *-^ Wednesday, May 8, 1974 ' \J Appealed to the U.S. Supremo Court. While the NAACP was bringing suits against cities in South Carolina, Virginia and Delaware, as well as Washington D.C. and Topeka, the Topeka case was the first to reach the Supreme Court. Charles Scott, a black Topeka attorney was one of the lawyers who represented the plaintiffs here and in Washington. He recalls that Linda Brown became a symbol of school desegregation by accident. "It so happens that Oliver Brown's name happened to be the first name on this petition along with a whole lot of other names." However it happened. Linda did become a symbol of the landmark decision. As the 20th anniversary approached, she was spending more and more time in interviews with reporters from all over the country. She says she has become the center of attention by default. Her father died in 1961 at the age of 42. Linda and her sisters Terry and Cheryl, agree with Scott that their father would have been a national figure in the civil rights movement of the '60s had he lived. "He was just as staunch and strong in his beliefs as Dr. (Martin Luther) King and. had he lived. I feel he would have been right by his side." Linda said recently. "He was forceful and he spoke with those same rhythms." "He could have been a national civil rights leader." Scott agreed. "Unfortunately, the other persons who were involved are non-existent as far as the public is concerned. Every time I talk with a representative of the press I can't close my eyes to these other people who were equally dedicated in volunteering their services as guinea pigs." The Rev. Mr. Brown is described as a stern, but. gentle man who fought against the apathy and pessimism surrounding the case. In those days, challenging the doctrine of "separate but equal" was considered hopeless. Had the Supreme Court decided against them, the NAACP. probably would have gone back to suing school boards on the grounds that black facilities were not equal, Scott said. Many Southern jurisdictions found the decision a harder pill to swallow than Topeka did. By the lime the high court decision was announced, Topeka already had integrated two of its former all-white schools and had scheduled desegregation for another 12 for the following fall. The southern states balked at desegregation and the Kansas Attorney General declined an invitation to meet with the attorneys general of other affected states to examine ways to get around the decision. In recent years many Topekans have been under the impression that their schools were integrated, but in January HEW said they are not integrated enough. HEW says the schools here are not "rac.ially balanced.". Enrollments in the 50 schools' range from no minority pupils to a high of 87 per cent minority pupils. HEW claims, moreover, that schools with the highest percentage of minorities are the oldest and most inferior facilities. Local administrators argue that other factors compensate for the inferior buildings. For example, the school with the highest percentage of minority students also has one of the best pupil-teacher ratios so each student receives more individual attention. Gerry Miller, a director of pupil accounting, says that over the years most minority families have moved into low cost housing near the center of the city. Being the oldest part of town, it also has the oldest school building:5. The Topeka Board of Education is studying several alternatives, including redrawing the school district boundaries, remodeling and expanding some facilities and even building new schools. One alternative they see as the very last resort is busing. Two principals of the Brown case disagree on busing. Linda Brown now is Mrs. Charles Smith, the mother of two elementary school-age children. Chuckie is in fifth grade and Kimberly is in fourth. They both go to a relatively new elementary school only a block from their home on the east side of town. "When I was in school the majority of my friends were white," she said. "Some were black and Spanish American. I just couldn't understand why we could play together all summer and then I couldn't go to school with them. That's, why I'm opposed to busing. "This is the issue that really disturbed my father. Why did his daughter have to go six blocks, across the railroad tracks to catch a school bus to go 15 more blocks to Monroe School, when she lived just four blocks from Sumner? I had to walk through the Rock Island railyards and then the yards were pretty busy. Sometimes I'd go halfway up and get so cold I'd run home." The bus arrived at the school at 8:30 a.m., but school didn't start until 9. She remembers some days when she had to wait in the cold outside the building for the entire half hour. As Linda sees it, "the problem doesn't lie within the physical setting of the schools, but in the housing patterns. Urban renewal always goes on in black areas. When they build these projects they should spread them out. But I know private developers are going to fight this." Twenty voars later. Linda Brown Smith is herself the mother of t\vo school-age children. Her son. 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