Brown v. Board at 65: Katherine Carper Sawyer, Daughter of Key Plaintiff, Reflects on Being Called to Testify in Court at 10 Years Old
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My parents and I lived about four blocks west of Gage and Huntoon. In 1946, this was out of Topeka’s city limits. I had to walk four blocks to catch the bus for Buchanan Elementary, one of the schools designated for black kids. As a little girl, four blocks looked like a mile. The streets were just dirt; when it rained, dirt turned into mud. On came the rubber boots and raincoat.

My mother and I would walk up those muddy roads stopping about every block so mom could find a stick or something to scrape the soles of our boots because the mud was so thick that it made walking hard. After getting to the place where the bus would pick me up, there was no place to stand for shelter. So, I stood in the wind, snow and rain, hoping the bus would be on time.

Snow days were especially tough. The cold, wet, blowing snow nearly froze my tender face. It would be so cold and I would be so bundled up that just getting to the bus stop tired me out. When I was in the third grade, a couple opened a little store about a block on the east side of Gage. Mom and I would go to this store and the owners would let us wait inside when the weather was bad.

One day, instead of going to school, mom told me that we were going to a big room at the courthouse and I would be asked some questions. These men wanted to ask me about my school and the bus ride. I had no idea what all of that meant.