ADVANTAGES

Board of Education of Topeka is widely known as the Supreme Court decision that declared segregated schools to be "inherently unequal." The story behind the case, including that of the 1951 trial in a Kansas courtroom, is much less known. It begins sixty miles to the east of Topeka in the Kansas City suburb of Merriam, Kansas, where , a thirty-year-old white Jewish woman, became incensed at the local school board's reluctance to make modest repairs in a dilapidated school for area black students, even while it passed a bond issue to construct a spanking new school for whites. Eventually, Esther's empathy would cause her to push the state's NAACP chapter to launch a campaign to end segregation in Kansas schools--a campaign that would lead to victory on May 17, 1954 when a unanimous Supreme Court declared that the Topeka Board of Education's policy of segregation violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

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