Alongside the church, the schools were anchors of African American life in Topeka. With the rise of an all-black teaching force in the city's black schools in the 1880s, teachers formed the backbone of the black middle class. They believed that education would liberate their race from ignorance, degradation, and poverty.
Although local teachers saw their profession as a calling, they were divided about school integration. Integration could mean the closure of black schools and the loss of black teachers' jobs. Not surprisingly, not one black Topeka teacher signed on as a plaintiff in the case.
We would not be in favor of changing our present set-up [of segregated elementary schools] without more evidence that our children would do as well and be as happy as they are now.
- Topeka Council of Colored Parents and Teachers, April 23, 1948
[Background photo caption reads]
1949 photo of Topeka's African American teachers taken in the kindergarten classroom here at Monroe School.