Topeka, Kansas is one of the most storied and least remembered cities in the USA's domestic fight for freedom. It was founded in 1854, seven years before statehood, with a population of 800. City founder John Ritchie and fellow abolitionist John Brown battled against slavery as the 1850s "bleeding Kansas" approached statehood. Kansas entered the union in 1861 as a free state with Topeka chosen the capitol over the pro-slavery territorial capitol Lecompton.
One hundred years later, the U. S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown vs. Board of Education-Topeka in 1954 changed public education forever. This landmark decision integrated classrooms across the USA and energized the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s at every level of society. Monroe Elementary School at 17th and Monroe Streets is a National Historic Site.