Jacque Womack talks about her experiences as the first black student to attend a white school after segregation ended with the Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. Board of Education.
Topeka, Kansas: 25 Years After Brown v. Board of Education Ruling
Jim Cummins, reporting: Until 25 years ago all black children in Topeka Kansas when to black elementary schools. And the city had only four of those, they were called separate but equal, until thirteen black parents went to court charging separate was inferior, not equal. On May 17th, 1954 the Supreme Court in a historic ruling agreed, and ordered the integration of every school system in the country. In Topeka, Jacque Womack became the first black child to attend school with whites.
Jacque Womack DEMOSS: I think I felt sort of like an unwanted guest. I think I was tolerated more than being someone that was really accepted.
Cummins: Topeka's four all-black schools are closed and are now abandoned, but even today most schools are not fully integrated, primarily because of housing patterns. Most black people live in one part of town, whites in another, and there is no cross town bussing. So many neighborhood schools are largely segregated. This is Bellmore Elementary. Although the entire district in 16 percent black, Bellmore is 73 percent black. This is Maclore Elementary; it is 96 percent white because it sits in a mostly white, upper income neighborhood, still separate, and the lawyer who represented black people in 1954 says their schools are still not equal.
Charles Scott, 1954 Plaintiff Lawyer: We have evidence to show that there is an inferiority of curriculums in some of these schools.
Cummins: School administrators disagree.
Topeka School Superintendent, James Gray: I feel that across the city we treat different parts of the city equally from the standpoint of the program.
CUMMINS: Topeka has closed many old schools and redrawn many boundary lines to further integration, and every 5th grader is required to attend a fully integrated school called the Adventure Center, it's the most promising integration plan in the past 25 years here, but it last only two weeks. Jim Cummins, NBC News, Topeka Kansas.
On October 22, 1963, seven of Arydell Spinks' 12 children stayed home from school. They were not sick, and they were not skipping school for the fun of it. Rather, they were protesting segregation in Chicago's public schools. They were part of a boycott called "Freedom Day."