Plaintiff in Brown Case Dies
The last surviving Topeka, Kan., plaintiff in the historic Brown v. Board of Education case has died at 88. Zelma Henderson died May 20 in Topeka, of pancreatic cancer.
In 1950, she joined on behalf of her children the litigation challenging Topeka’s racially segregated schools. In all, 13 black parents took part in the federal court case.
The plaintiffs lost in U.S. District Court, but the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, along with similar cases from Virginia, South Carolina, and Delaware. They were consolidated by the court as Brown v. Board.
The high court’s unanimous ruling overturning school segregation came on May 17, 1954. It outlawed the “separate but equal” doctrine.
While Ms. Henderson was the last surviving Topeka plaintiff, some plaintiffs from other states whose cases were consolidated into Brown are still living.
Vol. 27, Issue 39, Page 5
Get more stories and free e-newsletters!
- Superintendent of Schools
- Fremont County School District #14, Ethete, WY
- Executive Director
- Aspen Academy, Savage, MN
- Modern & Classical Languages Department Chair
- New Trier Township High School District 203, Winnetka, IL
- Chief Information Officer and Special Projects Manager
- Randolph Public Schools, MA
- Glenbrook North High School, Glenview, IL