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Located on the banks of the Kansas River, Topeka is the state capital. The name "Topeka" is translated as "a good place to dig potatoes" in tribal language. Topeka was founded in 1854 as a stop along a trail from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley in which people could cross the Kansas River. Soon, Topeka became a shipping hub for steamboats. In 1861, Topeka was named capital of Kansas, after it became the 34th state. For most people, however, Topeka would come to prominence in 1951.


That year, the city of Topeka, Kansas, was the defendant in one of the most important Supreme Court cases in the nation's history (Brown vs the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas). In 1951, a law-suit was filed against the school board of Topeka, Kansas, by 13 families on behalf of their children. The suit called for the integration of the city's high schools that were segregated by race (African-Americans were forced to attend different schools than Whites). Federal law permitted racial segregation as long as the schools were "equal" in what they provided students. Segregated schools, however, were never equal. Schools for White students had better facilities and materials. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional, and by 1955 demanded integration of all American schools "with all deliberate speed". The vague demand by the Supreme court allowed those who favored segregation to organize resistance.