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70 years after Brown v. Board, former students remember Topeka's all-Black schools

The Brown v. Board mural stands nearly complete in artist Michael Young's studio. The mural is now on display on the 3rd floor of the Kansas Capitol.
Carla Eckels
The Brown v. Board mural on the 3rd floor of the Kansas Capitol in Topeka.

May 17, 2024, marked the 70th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Black students in Topeka who attended segregated elementary schools gathered over the weekend to reflect on their experiences there.

Carolyn Wims-Campbell is a former student of McKinley Elementary, one of the four Black elementary schools in Topeka.

Seventy years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas that segregated schools were unconstitutional — opening the door to integration nationwide — Wims-Campbell said she is proud to have been educated in an all-Black setting.

"We were valued every day," Wims-Campbell said. "There was high expectations for us, for whatever we were wanting to do in life. They led us and guided us."

Wanda Dixon attended Buchanan Elementary School before it closed in 1959. She recalled the quality of her teachers there.

"They taught us not only about school, but they taught us about life," she said.

  • Carolyn Wims-Campbell, former student of McKinley Elementary School and first Black member of the Kansas State Board of Education
  • Wanda Dixon, former student of Buchanan Elementary School
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