Esther Brown Memorial Park was developed in memory of Esther E. Brown, a local resident who organized citizen support in the South Park area for litigation leading to the 1949 Webb vs. School District #90 case and ultimately the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision to admit black children to the schools.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable historic movements in education was the 1949 Webb vs. School District 90, a lawsuit filed on behalf of 39 families whose children were rejected from the white-only school, known as South Park Elementary. Corinthian Nutter, a true pioneer in desegregation, was the key witness in the lawsuit and helped create history when the Webb case paved the way for the 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education decision to remove segregation in the public school system.
Following is an excerpt of Ms. Nutter’s comments regarding desegregation at South Park school.
“I am the willowy daughter of a former slave. I ran away from home at age 15 to pursue an education in the North. When the time came, I sacrificed my hard-won teaching position to boycott the dilapidated all-black schoolhouse where I once taught in South Park. The one-room Walker Elementary School, with an outhouse on the playground had been separate from the town’s white school for more than 60 years and equal for none of its students. Black parents lost their patience when the town’s school board refused to let their children attend the new, modern school on the hill — a school built in part with black tax dollars. During the boycott, I did not want the children to suffer in the wake of being pulled from school, so I agreed to teach 39 children in my home, parents’ living rooms and in the basement of Mt. Olive Baptist Church. I was a teacher in the classroom, that’s all. And, education was for the children, not for a color. I was paid a stipend each month from the NAACP, but I would have done it for nothing. The lawsuit was an opportunity to stand up for equal rights in education. I just told them the truth. The school was dilapidated. We had no modern conveniences, had to go outside to go to the toilet – schools shouldn’t be for color. They should be for the children.”rn- Ms. Corinthian Nutter