Prelude to Brown - 1916: Woolridge v. Galena

1916: Woolridge v. The Board of Education of Galena

Classrooms at East Galena Elementary School were integrated in grades one through six. Because the school was overcrowded the Board of Education called a meeting to develop a plan to reduce class size. The solution chosen was to hire an African American teacher, who would teach only African American children in one multi-graded class. To carry out this plan representatives from Galena tried but failed to persuade the Kansas Legislature to allow second class cities to operate segregated schools. African American parents strongly objected to this change and filed suit to halt the Board's plans.

Local opinion was so inflamed against the demand of black parents in Galena that their children continue to attend mixed schools that they asked that the trial be moved to another county. Despite vocal intolerance, W.E. Woolridge and other parents won this 1916 case against the Board of Education as the Kansas Supreme Court found that racial separation "was without authority of law" in the second class city of Galena.

Read the Woolridge opinion.

View a scanned copy of the Woolridge opinion.