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Winter 1977, Volume 43, Number 4

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Homes and businesses in the area near the future site of the Topeka Boulevard bridge in Topeka, Kansas Homes and businesses in the area near the future site of the Topeka Boulevard bridge in Topeka, Kansas

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Airmail Special Letter: Robert Carter to Mckinley Burnett

Airmail Special Letter: Robert Carter to Mckinley Burnett
Date: March 31, 1953
Attorney Robert Carter acknowledges receipt of a copy of a letter from McKinley Burnett sent with an enclosed memo from Superintendent of Topeka Schools, Kenneth McFarland. Carter advises Burnett that if the McFarland proceeds in this (possible dismissal of Negro teachers) he would immediately initiate a court action. Carter further advises that he would be in Des Moines and that he would be happy to meet any teachers who have received "these notices."


Attorney Robert Carter to McKinley Burnett

Attorney Robert Carter to McKinley Burnett
Date: September 14, 1951
This letter dated September 14, 1951, is from NAACP Assistant Special Counsel Robert L. Carter to Topeka NAACP Chapter President McKinley Burnett. Carter advises Burnett that the National Chapter of the NAACP would require $5,000 to take the Brown case to the United States Supreme Court. However, Carter explained that the money would have to be raised locally and that nearby NAACP chapters could contribute if they so desired.


Charles E. Bledsoe to the NAACP Legal Department

Charles E. Bledsoe to the NAACP Legal Department
Creator: Bledsoe, Charles E.
Date: September 5, 1950
In the letter, Charles E. Bledsoe, attorney for the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP, outlines the general nature of Topeka's situation as influenced by local laws. In particular, Bledsoe refers to the Kansas Permissive Law of 1879 that allowed individual school districts to segregate schools if they so desired. However, the law did not mandate school segregation in Kansas. The response to this letter is Kansas Memory item #213410.


Charles I. Baston interview

Charles I. Baston interview
Creator: Baston, Charles I.
Date: May 14, 1992
Charles Baston was born in Lee's Summit, Missouri, on April 24, 1917. He attended grade school and junior high school while still living in Lee's Summit, and after junior high he moved to Topeka to attend the Kansas Vocational Technical School. He moved to Topeka permanently after his World War II discharge. Baston was a member of the executive committee of the local chapter of the NAACP during the Brown v. Board hearings. Much of his interview deals with the NAACPs role in finding plaintiffs in the Brown case, the problem with busing students to segregated schools, and other individuals who were instrumental to the success of this suit. Towards the end of the interview he also talks about how the Brown decision has not reached its full potential because of the racial prejudices that still exist today. Jean VanDelinder conducted the interview. The Brown v. Board oral history project was funded by Hallmark Cards Inc., the Shawnee County Historical Society, the Brown Foundation for Educational Excellence, Equity, and Research, the National Park Service, and the Kansas Humanities Council. Parts of the interview may be difficult to hear due to the quality of the original recording.


Christina Jackson interview

Christina Jackson interview
Creator: Jackson, Christina
Date: September 20, 1991
Christina Jackson was born on August 15, 1926, in Topeka, Kansas, to Georgia and Jess Edwards. In this interview, Jackson speaks about her experiences at the segregated Washington Elementary School and then at the integrated East Topeka Junior High and Topeka High School. According to Jackson, Washington had very strict teachers who emphasized the importance of learning about African American history. Her children attended Monroe School and, after desegregation, moved to State Street School, which had formerly been a school for white children only. Her children recalled that the faculty at State Street worked hard to integrate the black students, who were for the most part accepted by their peers. It was not until her children entered Holliday Junior High that they struggled with racial discrimination and derogatory comments. Jackson also discusses her work experiences and involvement in social clubs and volunteer organizations. This interview was conducted by Jean VanDelinder and Ralph Crowder. The Brown v. Board oral history project was funded by Hallmark Cards Inc., the Shawnee County Historical Society, the Brown Foundation for Educational Excellence, Equity, and Research, the National Park Service and the Kansas Humanities Council. Parts of the interview may be difficult to hear due to the quality of the original recording.


Coming Walter White

Coming Walter White
Date: 1949
This flyer announces the upcoming visit of NAACP executive secretary Walter White to Topeka on Tuesday, April 26, 8:15 p.m., Memorial Hall, 10th and Jackson. Under his leadership, the NAACP established the Legal Defense Fund, which helped fight segregation and disenfranchisement throughout the U.S.


Elmer Jackson to Harold Stauffer

Elmer Jackson to Harold Stauffer
Creator: Jackson, Elmer C. (Elmer Carter), 1912-
Date: November 21, 1945
This letter, from Elmer Jackson of the Kansas branch of the N.A.A.C.P. to Harold Stauffer, Chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, details the difficulties faced by African American students at the Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia.


Esther Swirk Brown

Esther Swirk Brown
Date: 1948
Esther Swirk Brown (1917-1970), was involved in desegregating Walker School, an all black school in South Park, Johnson County, Kansas. She was instrumental in organizing a South Park chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Brown was actively involved in Webb vs. School Dictrict No. 90, which resulted in the desegregation of Johnson County school.


Join the "fight for freedom" N.A.A.C.P membership campaign

Join the "fight for freedom" N.A.A.C.P membership campaign
Creator: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Date: Between 1950 and 1959
A membership envelope for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.).


Lucinda Todd to Walter White

Lucinda Todd to Walter White
Creator: Todd, Lucinda Wilson, 1903-1996
Date: August 29, 1950
First Letter from the Lucinda Todd, of the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP, to NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White. In the letter, Todd outlines the problems in Topeka and the fact that the Topeka Chapter of the NAACP wants to test the limits of Kansas law regarding segregated schools. The letter eventually led to the involvement of the NAACP and the arrival of the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and Executive team to the Todd home in Topeka for Brown case strategy sessions.


Maurita Davis interview

Maurita Davis interview
Creator: Davis, Maurita
Date: July 15, 1994
Maurita (Burnett) Davis was born October 8, 1923, in Topeka, Kansas, to her mother Lena Jones Burnett and her father McKinley Burnett. She attended the segregated Monroe school for eight years before she entered the integrated Crane Junior High. Her interview focuses on her experiences with racial discrimination, her time at Monroe, and her father's work in the NAACP. In 1948 her father became president of the Topeka NAACP, and he would later organize members of the NAACP to challenge the segregation of public schools at the primary level (secondary schools were already integrated). These dedicated citizens would become plaintiffs in the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The interview was conducted by Jean VanDelinder.


NAACP Legal Defense Fund to Charles Bledsoe

NAACP Legal Defense Fund to Charles Bledsoe
Date: September 18, 1950
In his reply to Topekan attorney Charles Bledsoe, NAACP legal counsel Robert L. Carter outlined his initial thoughts on strategies and approaches to the case. Two of Carter's main points were that the Topeka NAACP should recruit "as many plaintiffs and their parents from various grades from the lowest to the highest," and that the case be tried in a three-judge court in order to "by-pass the U.S. Court of Appeals and go directly into the U.S. Supreme Court." The letter from Charles Bledsoe prompting this reply is Kansas Memory item #213409.


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) urges you to vote no on amendment three

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) urges you to vote no on amendment three
Creator: NAACP
Date: 1958
In 1958, Kansas voters ratified the "right to work" amendment. Earlier attempts to pass "right to work" legislation were unsuccessful. This flyer created by the NAACP argues that the primary purpose of the legislation was to suppress the organization of trade unions.


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to Governor Ben Paulen

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to Governor Ben Paulen
Creator: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Date: March 13, 1925
The Kansas branch of the NAACP in Kansas City wrote this letter to Kansas Governor Ben S. Paulen in Topeka. The NAACP thanked Governor Paulen for not passing Senate Bill 269 known as the Ku Klux Klan bill. If passed, this bill would have allowed organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan to operate in Kansas without taking out a charter. Governor Paulen disagreed with the bill and discouraged its passing. The bill failed in the Kansas House of Representatives with 65 nays and 57 yeas.


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to Governor Henry Allen

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to Governor Henry Allen
Creator: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Date: July 21, 1919
This letter was written by the NAACP to Kansas Governor Henry Allen concerning the cost of the Anti Lynching conference that had taken place in New York in May of 1919. The NAACP asked Governor Allen to please help reimburse their Anti Lynching fund which paid for the conference. Since Governor Allen had signed an order to call for a national conference on lynching, the NAACP assumed he would be willing to help them. The lynching of African Americans particularly in Southern states had been an ongoing problem since the end of the Civil War. The National Conference on Lynching of 1919 asked for a federal law to be passed against the lynching of all citizens throughout the country. Although the passing of a federal bill failed in the 1920s, the NAACP succeed in bringing national attention to lynching and continued to fight for federal legislation.


Negroes to mark court victory Tuesday night

Negroes to mark court victory Tuesday night
Creator: Millikan, Mona
Date: May 17, 1954
This article in the Topeka Journal outlines how the Topeka black community reacted to the Supreme Court's decision that segregated schools were unconstitutional, finding in favor of the plaintiffs in the case Brown v. Board of Education. The article includes quotations from MacKenzie Burnett, president of the Topeka NAACP, Oliver Brown (for whom the court case was named), and Lucinda Todd, secretary of the Topeka NAACP. This local chapter had planned a celebration at Monroe Elementary, one of the four segregated black schools in Topeka.


Remember May 17th

Remember May 17th
Creator: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Date: May 17, 1955
A program from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announcing the first anniversary rally of the Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation in public education. The rally meeting was held by the Topeka Branch NAACP, May 17, 1955, at Memorial Hall, Topeka, Kansas.


Robert Carter to Herbert Bell

Robert Carter to Herbert Bell
Date: September 14, 1951
Carter's letter to Bell can be used in conjunction with his letter to Burnett to help students appreciate the scale of the effort that preceded the Brown case's arrival at the U.S. Supreme Court.


South Park chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Johnson County, Kansas

South Park chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Johnson County, Kansas
Date: 1947
South Park chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Among the group are Esther Swirk Brown (bottom row, third from right) and Alfonso Webb (top row, second from left), they helped found the chapter.


Vivian Scales interview

Vivian Scales interview
Creator: Scales, Vivian M.
Date: October 30, 1991
Vivian Scales was born March 11, 1922, in Winfield, Cowley County, Kansas, where she attended an integrated grade school. After her family moved to Topeka she became a student at the segregated McKinley Elementary, which was an adjustment for her and her siblings. She later attended Curtis Junior High and Topeka High School. Her interview discusses how extracurricular activities at Topeka High were segregated on the basis of race. After she married and started a family she joined the Topeka chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where she became a plaintiff in the Brown v. Board case that called for the desegregation of Topeka grade schools. Scales had attempted to enroll her daughter, Ruth Ann, in fourth grade at Parkdale Elementary, which was only two blocks from their home. Her request was denied. Ruth Ann had attended the segregated Washington and Monroe Elementary schools, which were both located far from the Scales' home. In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregated educational facilities were unconstitutional. The interview was conducted by Jean VanDelinder.


Walter White addressing audience at Memorial Hall

Walter White addressing audience at Memorial Hall
Creator: Lockhart, Monroe
Date: April 26, 1949
This photograph taken in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Hall of Topeka's Memorial Building, shows NAACP executive secretary Walter White addressing a crowd that included former Kansas Governor and Senator Arthur Capper, who was a member of the NAACP board of directors. During his presentation, which was part of his 10-day tour of five mid-Western states, White predicted the eventual end of segregation in the U.S.


Walter White to Lucinda Todd

Walter White to Lucinda Todd
Creator: White, Walter Francis, 1893-1955
Date: September 13, 1950
This Letter mentions the receipt of Todd's letter of August 29, 1950, about the situation in Topeka's elementary schools. White mentioned that he would immediately refer the letter to his legal department and said that Todd should expect to hear from him shortly.


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