Prelude to Brown - 1907: Rowles v. Wichita

1907: Rowles v. The Board of Education of Wichita

In 1907, Sallie Rowles in Wichita won the case for her daughter Fannie to attend Emerson School near her home, but within three years the situation drastically changed.

Despite the fact that early schools in Wichita had not practiced educational discrimination, by 1906, the Wichita board passed a resolution stating "the separation of white and colored children is more in keeping with the ideals and wishes of a majority of patrons." Black patrons objected at a school board meeting, but official support had disappeared. In 1905, the Kansas State Superintendent of Public Instruction in the 15th Biennial Report sought to justify segregation of the races in public schools. In 1909, the Kansas Legislature repealed an earlier law governing Wichita Schools, which had not permitted segregation. L'Ouventure and Douglass Schools were built exclusively for elementary education of black children in the first class city of Wichita.

Read the Rowles opinion and the 1909 law and the 15th Biennial Report.

View a scanned copy of the Rowles opinion.
View a scanned copy of the 1909 law.
View a scanned copy of the 15th Biennial Report.