Topeka has a wealth of citizens who can recall the impact of the Brown v. Board decision on their lives and within the Topeka community before and after the historic decision. Some are the children of the actual named litigants in the Topeka case who are still alive and whose oral histories can yet be recorded. The goal of this project is to collect these stories from valued primary sources and create a wider scope of understanding through an examination of multiple perspectives of what life was really like for the “children of Brown”.
Dr. Beryl New, Ed.D.
Beryl New recently retired as an educator after 35 years of professional experience in Topeka and Lawrence. She served as a public school teacher, counselor, school administrator, and director of equity during the scope of her career. She attended the historic Monroe Elementary School, which is now the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Park. Much of her current work involves advocacy for Kansas youth, African American affairs, DEI trainings, community improvement, and organizing activities leading up to the 70th anniversary of the Brown decision in May, 2024. Dr. New also participated as an interviewee in the I Want to Testify documentary.
Marietta “Marty” Patterson is a Topeka historian and activist. She is the 2018 recipient of the National Park Service’s Enduring Service Volunteer Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. Mrs. Patterson spearheaded the recognition and remembrance of the original plaintiffs and other students of Topeka Public Schools during the pre- and post-Brown v. Board decision. She helped to facilitate the production of I Just Want to Testify which chronicles the lives of Brown students in Topeka. This project was underwritten through a Kansas Humanities Commission grant. Prior to moving to Topeka, she was a resident of Los Angeles, California; however, during her youth, she spent many summers in Topeka.