KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brown v. Board of Education is a landmark Supreme Court case which originated in Kansas.
"There were dozens of school deseg cases. California, Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, so this was not peculiar and it did not just come out of the blue," said Cheryl Brown Henderson, the founding president of The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research.
Her father was one of the plaintiffs in the case, which originated with the NAACP.
"Told them what to do. Try to enroll your kids in a white school and come back and tell us what happened and that's what they did in the fall of 1950. They were all denied," Brown Henderson said.
A federal case was born.
In 1954, the Supreme Court decided that segregation was unconstitutional and violated the 14th Amendment.
It would take more than two decades for that decision to impact Lincoln High School in Kansas City. Desiree Saunders, class of 1980, remembers the shift in 1978 when white students started arriving at the once all Black school.
"After that, we started noticing we had access to more classes like physiology and anatomy. We got more books. Our technology got better," she said.
Reflecting back, Benita Townsend Young, class of 1978, shared similar memories.
"It just appears to me that there was just more effort to bring more white students in to integrate the school. Whoever made the decision, after we graduated, it would have been nice if some of that effort could have been given to us so that we could still have the same quality of education that you want these white students to have," Townsend Young said.
Brown Henderson said though the motive was good, ultimately it evolved into something different than the ruling's intent.
"When school districts tried to comply with the separate but equal issue, it turned into a matter of counting heads. It turned into busing our children to suburban school districts. It turned into building magnet schools to try to convince white parents to come back to the urban core," she said. "It turned into something that Thurgood Marshall never intended it to be. It was not about sitting next to white children, it was about the resources to ensure that our children received a world class education."
The Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research partnered with the University of Kansas to release "Recovering Untold Stories: An Enduring Legacy of the Brown v. Board of Education Decision," a free resource for the community.