A century after Bleeding Kansas, race was again at the forefront. The Rev. Oliver Brown joined a dozen other black families suing to send their children to white schools in the state's capital. The Topeka lawsuit was joined with cases from Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C., and led to the historic 1954 Supreme Court ruling that overturned segregated education.
The story of the case is told in the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, which is housed in the former Monroe School where Brown's daughter, Linda, and another plaintiff child were students. The audio tour also will provide information about Sumner School, the all-white school where Oliver Brown sought to enroll his daughter.
History buffs also can stop by the building where the Topeka case first was argued before a three-judge panel that voiced concerns about segregated school. But because the judges were bound by the "separate but equal doctrine" of the day, they ruled against the black families, finding that the education provided to their children was substantially equal to what was provided to white children.
"You have the Underground Railroad. You've got the Brown case and just how important that was and all the schools that were associated with that," Smith said. "There are a number of sites that often get neglected by normal visitors coming to Topeka, coming to Kansas. We're just trying to highlight them."
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site: www.nps.gov/brvb and www.facebook.com/brownvboardnps