By Rich Madaleno and Luwanda Jenkins

The loss of Linda Brown is a great loss to our country. While her name will forever be a part of American civil rights history, all elected public officials should make sure that her legacy will live on, and that all of our public schools will remain spaces of high quality education for all.

For Linda Brown, it all started when she tried to enroll in an all-White elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, which was much closer to her home. To go to the all-Black one, she had to walk 2 miles across town, through railroad yards and across a busy avenue. In wintertime, the walk would be so cold and unbearable that she sometimes had to run back home.

(Photo/nps.gov)

She was only 9 years old at the time. At that age – at any age – one should never have to struggle for their basic right to education in our country.

But she had to. So she and her family sued the Topeka Board of Education. Four similar cases were combined with her complaint and they presented their case to the Supreme Court. The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling ended segregation in American schools, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson which established the separate but equal doctrine that formed the legal basis for Jim Crow laws.

Linda Brown was a heroic young lady who bravely fought to end the ultimate symbol of white supremacy: racial segregation in public schools. Today, other children are walking in her footsteps by leading the national charge against gun violence in our country (a plague that still disproportionately affects African-Americans).

I, too, promise to walk in Linda Brown’s footsteps. If elected Lieutenant Governor for Maryland, I pledge that I and Rich Madaleno will work tirelessly to provide a world-class education system that improves education and provides for all our children, regardless of whether they live in the suburbs, in our state’s urban centers, or in rural areas.

Our ticket has put forth a far reaching plan to help enrollment in our state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This includes $1 billion to be allocated to Maryland’s four HBCUs over a ten-year period in order to remediate to the segregative effects of current state policies and practices. Clearly, in 2018, the fight continues – and Rich is currently fighting in the Senate to establish funding for teacher recruitment and retention, debt-free college education, and to ensure the nutritional needs for hungry kids are met.

With my background having worked for minority affairs for three Maryland governors, and Rich serving on the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (Kirwan Commission), our ticket provides a unique blend of executive and legislative experience that will translate into good judgment-based leadership. At a time when the current Trump administration has no regard for experience, with a Secretary of Education that shows no regard for public schools, let’s make sure that Maryland paves the way in matters of education that benefits all children.

Maryland needs leaders who truly believe in the promise of public education to build a 21st century public school system that will serve as a beacon for the rest of the nation. Maryland needs leaders who believe in continuing Linda Brown’s fight for equal chances at education, at life. We will be these leaders.

Rich Madaleno and Luwanda Jenkins are running for governor and lieutenant-governor of Maryland.

Luwanda Jenkins is a Baltimore native with over 25 years of effective progressive leadership experience in both the private and public sector. She served as Special Secretary for the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs, where she was instrumental in leading initiatives that generated record gains for minority and woman business inclusion in State contracting.

Rich Madaleno has served Montgomery County for 16 years in the Maryland General Assembly and has been a leader in investing in education, serving as a member of the Kirwan Commission. He lives with his husband and their two African-American children in Kensington.