The U.S. Army established Fort Scott in 1842, as they began crossing expanding the nation’s boundaries by expanding onto Native American territory. It was officially laid out as a town in 1857, during a period of violent unrest infamously known as “Bleeding Kansas.” Prior to the Kansas’s admission as a free state to the Union in 1861, abolitionist and pro-slavery factions violently fought for control. Throughout the Civil War, the conflict blazed, but the war settled things and Fort Scott became one of the premier cities on the American frontier in the years leading up to the turn of the twentieth century.
Although Kansas was always a free state, it was among 35 states in the nation to put Jim Crow laws on the books following the Civil War. Once again Kansas found itself at the center of national conflict, as its segregation laws focused on education, requiring separate schools for black students. It was not until 1954, with Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Kansas) that the policy of “separate but equal” was declared unconstitutional.
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Photo: Gordon Parks (American, 1912-2006). Untitled, St. Louis, Missouri, 1950. Gelatin silver print, 8 x 10 in. © The Gordon Parks Foundation.