Five years before Brown v. the Board of Education, Webb v. School District 90 ended segregation practices in South Park, Kan. In honor of Black History Month, we would like to spotlight Corinthian Nutter, a major contributor in this case. Nutter risked her career to take action on behalf of African-American students and parents in her community.
In the 1940s, Nutter taught at the Walker Elementary School in South Park, now known as Merriam, Kan. Over the years of segregation practices in School District 90, Walker Elementary became dilapidated and unsuitable for a proper learning environment. While Walker Elementary School remained open, School District 90 built a new school, South Park Elementary. Unfortunately, the school district denied enrollment for African-American students at South Park. The denials continued even after several formal requests from parents and others in the community. So in 1948, Nutter, students, parents and other community members orchestrated a boycott of Walker Elementary.
As a result, Nutter lost her job with the school district and was replaced by two new teachers. However, only two students remained at Walker Elementary after the boycott. With the help of teacher Hazel McCray Weddington, Nutter continued to teach the former Walker Elementary School children out of private residences, and their salaries were paid by parents and other supporters.
Over the next year, boycott supporters rallied and raised money to hire a lawyer to sue the school district. The case went to court and Webb v. School District 90 successfully ended segregation practices in South Park.
For more information about the Walker Elementary boycott and other individuals that helped end the segregation practices in Johnson County, go to http://www.jocogov.org/musOnline/southPark/southpark.htm.
-Beth Edson, Johnson County Library