Topeka’s Greatest Trial

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Topeka’s Greatest Trial” by D.W. Carter.

Integrated School copy

First grade class at State Street Elementary School, Topeka, 1955. Photo by John Edward Schrock. Image via, Kansas Historical Society, copy and reuse restrictions apply.

In the fall of 1950, Oliver Brown tried to enroll his 7-year-old daughter at nearby Sumner Elementary, but she was refused entrance because she was African American. D.W. Carter’s presentation, “Topeka’s Greatest Trial,” tells the local story of Brown’s involvement with the class action lawsuit and includes direct testimony from the 1951 trial that was first argued before the U.S. District Court in downtown Topeka.  Participants will engage in a discussion of events leading up to 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Supreme Court decision that desegregated public schools across the nation.

“We often think of the Brown case in the broader context of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Carter. “But remembering the local story, which began right here in Kansas, is vitally important to our understanding of how individuals can influence change.”


D.W. Carter

D. W. Carter is a historian, best-selling author, and educator specializing in military and social history. Originally from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, he was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in 2003 and now considers himself a Kansan.

Bring D.W. Carter’s “Topeka’s Greatest Trial” or one of the other presentations in the Humanities catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, director of programs, at leslie(at) for more information.