Linda Brown, who helped end US school segregation, dies at 76

Linda Brown, who was at the centre of the 1950s court battle leading to the desegregation of US public schools, died on Monday, the organisation that spearheaded the landmark legal effort said.

The US Supreme Court ruling on the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 was a key moment in the movement to end widespread discriminatory practices against black people in the United States.

"Linda Brown, who was one of the young students at the heart of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, passed away today at age 76," said a statement from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF).

Brown "is one of that special band of heroic young people who, along with her family, courageously fought to end the ultimate symbol of white supremacy  in public schools," the LDF's president Sherrilyn Ifill said.

"She stands as an example of how ordinary schoolchildren took centre stage in transforming this country," she said.

In the early 1950s, Oliver Brown sought to enrol his daughter in an all-white school near the family's home in Topeka, Kansas, but was told she had to go to an all-black school that was further away.

Brown turned to the courts for justice in a case that was part of an anti-segregation push by the NAACP.

The Kansas case was combined with others from Delaware, South Carolina and Virginia as well as the capital, Washington, when they were appealed to the US Supreme Court, becoming the ground-breaking Brown v. Board of Education.

On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that segregation was unconstitutional.