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In 1951, Barbara Johns led her fellow students in a walkout to protest school segregation. She then started a lawsuit that became part of Brown v. Board of Ed.
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The schools remained closed for five years, reopening in 1964.
Once at the center of the public debate on segregation, Johns spent the rest of her life away from the media spotlight. She furthered her education at Spellman College and Drexel University. Committed to education, she became a school librarian and married Rev. William Powell. The couple had five children together. She died in 1991.
To this day, Barbara Johns is remembered for her role in the fight against school segregation. She showed the world through her actions that one person can be a force for change. Johns has been honored in her home state. A sculpture of her is shown leading the 1951 school strike in the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial in Richmond.
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