Prelude to Brown - 1908: Williams v. Parsons

1908: Williams v. The Board of Education of Parsons

In the first class City of Parsons, D.A. Williams won a narrowly based case on the issue of safety. In 1908, the Parsons Board assigned all African American children to one of the four elementary schools. Williams, whose four children had attended school near their home, refused to have the children cross seven dangerous railroad tracks to reach the designated school. He was informed that his children and other African American students were required to attend a school designated for them. The School was located more than a mile from the children's home and in an area surrounded by various railroad-switching yards.

The School was plagued by railroad traffic and train noises that disrupted the classroom. Mr. Williams filed legal action to remove his children from Lincoln School because of the dangers associated with travel to the school. The Kansas Supreme Court found that on the facts presented, Williams was entitled to relief, but left the door open for other separate school arrangements.

Read the Williams opinion.

View a scanned copy of the Williams opinion.