May 5, 2014
Sixty-three years ago, a small group of families from Topeka took a stand against discrimination. It would take decades and decades before the full weight of their blow would be felt. But that one day in federal court here in Topeka would cause changes that would affect every corner of this nation and eventually be heard around the world. The efforts of those amazing families taught all of us that discrimination has no place in America and that collectively, we are stronger when we fight for what is right.
That first battle took place in the federal court house in downtown Topeka. When President Herbert Walker Bush signed Public Law 102-525 in 1992 and created a National Park Service site to commemorate the Brown v. Board of Education decision, what more fitting place for a temporary visitor center than the same court building where the battle to end discrimination had started. As the years moved on and the roll of that court house changed to that of the main post office for Topeka, it stands as one of the key civil rights monuments. This is the place where Brown v. Board of Education got its start.
Today I received notice from Tom Samra, the vice president for facilities at the United States Postal Service, that the USPS has reviewed the concerns raised by many in the Topeka community concerning the historical importance of the Post Office and the importance of continued public access to the site. The agency has concluded that for the efficiency of the service, the main post office will indeed be closed and that there will be no further avenue for appeals to keep it open.
Earlier this year, I contacted Mr. Samra to share with him the importance of this structure and the role it plays as a civil rights icon. I continue to believe that the old federal court house is a an extremely important part of the Brown story and I am committed to working in any way I can to find ways to allow for continued public access to the structure. I know the decision to close the post office is especially hard on our local historical societies and friends groups. As I continue to work with the Post Office to ensure public access to the structure, I will keep you informed of any news as well as any role the public can play.