Selected Facts Relating to Segregation in Topeka, Kansas (1876-1951)
1. In 1876, the Kansas legislature enacted a civil rights law that prohibited racial discrimination in "any state university, college, or other school of public instruction" or in any place of public accommodation or amusement or public conveyance.
2. In 1879, after a wave of about 8,000 blacks from southern states moved to Kansas, the Kansas legislature enacted a law giving first-class cities (cities of more than 15,000 people) the authority to establish segregated elementary and junior high schools.
3. In 1903, William Reynolds, an African-American, brought suit after his son was refused a seat in an all-white Topeka school. Reynolds sued Topeka, but the policy of segregation was upheld by the Kansas Supreme Court.
4. In 1941, the Topeka School Board proposed to establish all-white junior high schools, but a group of Topeka blacks sue and successfully block the plan (Graham v Board of Education of Topeka)
5. In 1948, "The Citizens' Committee" filed a petition with the Topeka School Board, asking for an end to its policy of maintaining racially separate elementary schools. The petition was rejected.
6. In 1950, Topeka's population of about 80,000 was just under 10% black.
7. In 1951, Topeka was a Jim Crow town in some respects, but not others. Blacks and whites did not have separate waiting room at train or bus stations, and blacks were not required to sit in the back of buses. On the other hand, the Gage Park swimming pool was white only, and many of the local businesses (hotels, restaurants, movie theaters) discriminated against blacks. It was extremely difficult, in 1951, for blacks to land well-paying jobs.
8. In 1951, high schools and junior high schools in Topeka were integrated, but elementary schools were not. Topeka operated eighteen elementary schools for whites and four for blacks.
9. Topeka High, although having an integrated student body in 1951, had two basketball teams, one all white ("Trojans") and one all black ("Ramblers"). The school also maintained separate tennis, golf, swimming, wrestling, and cheerleading teams, as well as separate pep clubs. Blacks and whites had separate student governing bodies and generally sat at separate cafeteria tables.
10. The case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was filed in federal district court for the state of Kansas on February 28, 1951.