Oliver Brown (American activist)

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Oliver Brown
Oliver L. Brown

(1918-08-19)August 19, 1918
DiedJune 1961 (1961-07) (aged 42)
Springfield, Missouri, U.S.
Known forBrown v. Board of Education

Oliver Brown (August 19, 1918 – June 1961) was an American welder who was the plaintiff in the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case Oliver Brown, et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, et al. The Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, who, besides Brown, included Barbara Johns who was only 16 when she organized a student revolt at her badly-underfunded high school.

This decision overturned the separate but equal doctrine that had been used as the standard in Civil Rights lawsuits since the Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896, in effect declaring it unconstitutional to have separate public schools for black and white students.[1] The decision is considered a major milestone in the Civil Rights Movement.

St. Mark's A.M.E. Church

Brown was a welder in the shops of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, an assistant pastor at St. Mark's A.M.E Church.[2] Brown's daughter Linda Carol Brown, a third grader, had to walk six blocks to her school bus stop to ride to Monroe Elementary, her segregated black school one mile (1.6 km) away, while Sumner Elementary, a white school, was seven blocks from her house.[3][4]

Brown was only 42 when he died of a heat stroke in Springfield, Missouri in 1961. In 1988, the nonprofit Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research was founded by Topeka community members to honor Oliver Brown and to preserve the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. His daughter Cheryl Brown Henderson works with the foundation. On October 26, 1992, after two years of work by the Brown Foundation, President George H. W. Bush signed the Brown v. The Board of Education National Historic Site Act, establishing the former Monroe Elementary School as a national historic site.[5][6][7] His daughter Linda Brown died on March 25, 2018 at the age of 75.[8]


  1. ^ Linder, Douglas. "The Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: An Account". University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Brown v. Board of Education - Oral History - Part 1". kshs.org.
  3. ^ Encarta entry on Brown. Archived 2009-10-31.
  4. ^ "CJOnline.com : In-Depth : Brown vs. The Topeka Board of Education". cjonline.com.
  5. ^ "Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka". Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska–Lincoln. 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  6. ^ "Brown v. Board: Education of a nation - US news - Life - Race & ethnicity - NBC News". msnbc.com.
  7. ^ "Brown v. Board of Education". National Park Service. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  8. ^ Hrenchir, Tim (March 26, 2018). "Linda Brown, center of Brown v. Board case, dies at 76". The Topeka Capital-Journal. Retrieved March 25, 2018.

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