Six decades after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, three people with unique experiences in fighting for integration and equality in public schools share their stories with Education Week.
John A. Stokes, plaintiff in Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County
“When the Supreme Court decision was rendered, I was in the army...The guys were screaming and hollering and jumping up and down and partying and everything, and they said, ‘Hey Stokes, you’re mighty quiet.’ I said, ‘the war has just begun fellas.’ I told them ‘Hell is going to break loose now.’ ”
Sylvia Mendez, plaintiff’s daughter in Mendez v. Westminster School District
“We would all be on the same bus, and they would drop us off in front of the white school; this beautiful, manicured-lawn school with palm trees and a wonderful playground right there in the front with swings. And then we had to walk to the Mexican school.”
Suzy Post, plaintiff in Newburg Area Council Inc. v. Board of Education of Jefferson County
“I just don’t think we ever, ever, ever as a community, stood up and said, ‘Alright, we’re going to have desegregated education. Integration is going to mean, this, this, this, and this, and we’re watching you, Board of Education. There are certain things we expect of you.’ ”
A version of this article appeared in the May 14, 2014 edition of Education Week