Norwalk, CT As we watch the Parkland students lead a mobilization of students across the country and the globe against gun violence in schools, I have been impressed by the ability of students to make a difference and lead in the fight for change. Norwalk’s own Center for Youth Leadership is no stranger to fighting for the change their student members believe is critical towards creating a more just society. Today, I am reminded of the great history of students fighting for change in our country. Who can forget the iconic image captured by Norman Rockwell of Ruby Bridges facing angry mobs as she simply tried to walk to school. Or the students who banded together to fight for racial equality as part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
On Sunday, we lost another student whose name is synonymous with fighting for equality, Linda Brown. We mourn her loss and send condolences to her family. Linda Brown was one of the students about whom the historic 1954 Supreme Court Decision of Brown v. Board of Education decision was related to. Ms. Brown used to walk a great distance across roads and train yards just to make it to her bus stop to attend an all black school. As a third grader, she did not understand why her being black meant she could not attend a nearby school just four blocks away which happened to be labeled for white students only. The denial of her admission at the Sumner School in Topeka, Kansas, and several other students at different schools across the country would result in one of the most momentous civil rights decisions in our nation’s history.
As we celebrate the life and accomplishments of Linda Brown, let us also remember that Brown v. Board of Education did not end racial inequality in schools. Her story is just the beginning of a struggle for equality that persists today. The data on the opportunity gap in our own schools tells us that we have substantially more work that still needs to be done in our fight for equality in education. Let us be inspired by her life as we take on the challenges that lay ahead.