In the 1940s and 1950s, according to the laws of most southern states, there were separate schools for blacks and whites, from elementary school through college.
Linda Brown was a seven-year-old black girl who lived in Topeka, Kansas, in 1950. There were two schools in the town: one for black children, which was far from her home, and one for white children, which was four blocks from her home.
Linda’s father did not see why she should have to travel when there was a perfectly good school that was closer. He decided to go to court to fight for Linda’s right to attend the closer school.
His lawsuit, called Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, was handled by Thurgood Marshall, chief attorney for the NAACP (and future associate justice of the Supreme Court). The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court ruled that segregated public schools in the United States were unconstitutional.
Every victory in cases such as Brown v. Board of Education made African Americans more confident that justice was possible through use of the judicial system.