By Tulare County Library Staff, Guest Contributors
In honor of Black History Month, the Tulare County Library and Tulare County Museum joined together to research and pay tribute to Edmond Edward Wysinger, a pioneer who fought for desegregation in Visalia, California.
Wysinger came to California as a slave in 1849 joining many others in the gold fields of Northern California before moving to the Central Valley. After nearly a year of mining, he saved up the $1,000 needed to purchase his freedom from slavery. By 1871, Wysinger married Penecia Wilson in Merced and soon after settled in Visalia, California, where they grew their family to eight children.
When Wysinger attempted to enroll his twelve-year-old son, Arthur, in the Visalia School District, he was told his son must go to “Visalia Colored School” His son’s denied entry to the Visalia school led to Wysinger’s lawsuit against the county’s school board in 1888. His case lost.
Not deterred, Wysinger took his case to the California Supreme Court. On January 29, 1890 the California Supreme Court ruled in the case Wysinger v. Crookshank that California public schools could no longer be racially segregated. This case would be used as legal precedent in the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, enabling school integration nationwide. Although Wysinger died the next year, his son did attend the desegregated school in Visalia. His impact in Visalia and California made a large impact on our country.
For more information on Edmond Wysinger and his contributions to our history, you can visit the Tulare County Museum’s exhibit or visit the Visalia branch of the Tulare County Library to find photos and information on the court case. The African American Museum and Library at Oakland holds the family papers and more historical papers and photos for further research.
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