SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -

The educational landscape has changed tremendously over the past 6 decades.

"Back when I was going to school it was supposed to have been separate but equal. But there's no such thing. It wasn't separate but equal so the kids today need to understand that it wasn't always the way it is today," said Former City Councilman and Lincoln Alum Denny Whayne.

Whayne attended the segregated Lincoln School until a the supreme court decision to integrate schools in the Brown v. Board of Education case of 1954.

"When the decision was made the principal of Lincoln visited most of the African American families and told us we had the option of remaining at Lincoln or we could go to senior high school," said Febra Lofton a retired educator and Lincoln Alum


Lofton decided to switch to Senior high, which is now Central High school.

"It was very interesting. I felt isolated from my friends. There were a few of us that went over, everyone didn't so I could probably go a good portion of the day without seeing anyone that I really knew," said Lofton.

"I found some teachers to be less than accepting and others went out of their way to make us feel very comfortable," she explained.

"The black teachers at Lincoln prepared us to go anywhere so it wasn't anything new as far as learning. It was just the idea of the fact that we had more things to choose to do and to participate in," said Whayne.

And the family who helped pave the way for these new opportunities lived and worked right here in Springfield.

"Linda [Brown] was a few grades ahead of me. I went to school with her sister at Boyd but we all socialized together," said Whayne.

The brown sisters were the daughters of Oliver Brown, the lead Plantiff in the Brown v. Board of Education Case.

"She was a very quiet laid back person. She never gloated about the fact that they were the ones that sued the board of education. But thank God for her and her family," said Whayne.

And now 60 years later people of all races continue to benefit from this landmark case.

"It not only overturned stuff in education but it laid the ground work for the civil rights act, the voting rights act so it basically broke down the doors for segregation," said Greg Darnaby, Assistant Principal at Central High School.


"I think it's really a very critical part of our history. There have been so many changes made in my lifetime that would not have occurred without that decision. I think it's opened the doors for students to really dream," said Lofton. 

"I just hope that our youth take advantage of every educational opportunity that is available to them and really become familiar with their history to see how important it is that they get out and achieve," Lofton explained.

This summer Linda Brown and sister Cheryl Brown will be back in Springfield to speak at an event during an exhibit called "Changing America." That will be held at the Library Center here in Springfield from July 9th through August 22nd.