In our country’s long and difficult history of dealing with racial inequality, Kansas has played a proud role. But we can’t let that role only be a historical one.
Many are familiar with our state’s origin as a free state. Settlers literally shed blood to make sure we entered the union without the stain of slavery in our borders. Today, that phrase, “free state,” adorns a high school and beer alike. But it should be remembered that the abolitionists weren’t quaint relics — they were forceful, loud and willing to use violence in their pursuit of freedom for their fellow Americans who lived in chains.
Roughly a century later, Topeka found itself at the center of the national dialogue again as the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In its 1954 decision, the high court overturned the doctrine of separate but equal, holding that there was no way that institutions segregated by race could treat black Americans fairly.
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