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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Topeka in Shawnee County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

A Turning Point for Equality

 
 
A Turning Point for Equality Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 15, 2015
1. A Turning Point for Equality Marker
Inscription.

Across the field in front of you stands the former Monroe Elementary School. Parents of six students that attended this school in 1949 participated in the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit. On May 17, 1954, the US Supreme Court issued a breakthrough ruling on Brown v. Board of Education declaring that "... in the field of education... Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." This schoolhouse is still a place for education today. During your visit you can explore the story behind a defining moment in the nation's long struggle to live up to its ideals - to provide everyone with equality of opportunity.

[Upper right inset photo caption reads]
Thurgood Marshall (fourth from right) led a legal team that sought to end all forms of legalized racial segregation in the country. Focusing on public education, Marshall's team assembled five class action lawsuits from four states and the District of Columbia to argue before the US Supreme Court. Charles Scott, an attorney from Topeka, stands to the far left.

Ritchie's Addition
African American families began settling in this neighborhood after the Civil War ended in 1865. A large surge of African Americans began arriving in 1879. Fleeing oppression in the South at the end of Reconstruction, they came in search of new freedoms

Photo on A Turning Point for Equality Marker image. Click for full size.
By Unknown, circa 1954
2. Photo on A Turning Point for Equality Marker
and opportunities.

Many of these migrants settled in "Ritchie's Addition," property owned by John and Mary Ritchie. The Ritchies opened their land to black migrants in support of their vision for an ideal society in which African Americans and whites could live together.

Historic Ritchie House
John and Mary Ritchie were white abolitionists active in the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. They made this neighborhood their home for many years.

Old Federal Building
Brown v. Board of Education was first argued in 1951 in a third floor courtroom in Topeka's federal building.

Constitution Hall
Kansas' march to free statehood began in this building in October 1855 with the drafting of the anti-slavery Topeka Constitution.
 
Erected 2014 by National Park Service.
 
Location. 39° 2.256′ N, 95° 40.537′ W. Marker is in Topeka, Kansas, in Shawnee County. Marker is on SE Monroe Street south of SE 15th Street, on the left when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is at public parking area at Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1515 SE Monroe Street, Topeka KS 66612, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A "Separate But Equal" School?

A Turning Point for Equality Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 15, 2015
3. A Turning Point for Equality Marker
Looking NW, with Monroe School in background
(here, next to this marker); How to Heat and Cool an Old School (within shouting distance of this marker); A Playground and Community Center (within shouting distance of this marker); Monroe School Neighborhood (within shouting distance of this marker); Monroe School (within shouting distance of this marker); Pillars of the Community (within shouting distance of this marker); Standing Up for Their Rights (within shouting distance of this marker); G.A.R. Memorial Building (approx. 0.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Topeka.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
 
Also see . . .
1. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. (Submitted on March 12, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. History of Brown v. Board of Education. (Submitted on March 12, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Landmark Cases: Brown v. Board of Education (1954). (Submitted on March 12, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. African American Topeka. (Submitted on March 12, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRAfrican AmericansCivil RightsEducation
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 268 times since then and 26 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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