A new book explores the various court cases that resulted in desegregating America’s schools, “A Girl Stands At the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America’s Schools.”

Author Rachel Devlin, a professor at Rutgers University, appeared at Topeka’s Barnes and Noble bookstore on June 23 with Katherine Carper Sawyer, who is thought to be the only child to testify in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case.

The book argues that Brown v. Board of Education would not have happened without the leadership of young women in early desegregation cases in the 1940s.

Sawyer, who lives in Topeka, is featured in the book.

Devlin told the Topeka Capital-Journal that girls who were recommended as plaintiffs or to testify in these cases were carefully chosen.

“You had all these lawyers flying in from all over the United States. You couldn’t take any risks with these trials. You can’t have a child hesitate or get fidgety,” Devlin said. “They needed somebody who they absolutely knew would speak to the lawyer clearly and would be poised. And that’s what Kathy gave to them on the stand.”

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