Prelude to Brown - 1891: Knox v. Independence

1891: Knox v. The Board of Education of Independence

Jordan Knox of Independence found himself in a situation similar to Elijah Tinnon. Knox's daughters, eight and ten year old Bertha and Lilly, passed by one elementary school to reach the Fourth Ward School to which they were assigned. In 1890, their father informed the Board of Education that he wanted his daughters to attend the school nearest their home. He argued the Second Ward School had room for additional children. Since the Independence Board had established separate classes for African American children within one of their four primary schools, the superintendent refused to enroll Bertha and Lilly in the school near their home. Knox sought legal help to compel the Board to honor his request. When this case was decided in 1891, the Kansas Supreme Court cited the Tinnon case and found no authority for the second class city of Independence "to exclude from the schools established for white children, the colored children." Knox and four other parents who joined as plaintiffs won their case and were awarded court costs.

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