Farmville Virginia’s former Robert Russa Moton High School, now a National Historic Landmark and museum, preserves and constructively interprets the history of Civil Rights in Education, specifically as it relates to Prince Edward County, and the leading role its citizens played in America’s transition from segregation toward integration.
Moton strives to promote dialogue and advance positions that ensure empowerment within a constitutional democracy.
The Robert Russa Moton Museum is envisioned to be a repository for historically significant materials that record Prince Edward County’s 13-year struggle to achieve Civil Rights in Education.
The Museum will feature exhibits that document and reflect upon the period of transition from segregation to integration of public education with particular attention to events occurring from 1951 to 1964.
The Museum will exist to commemorate the students and families whose courage and personal sacrifices brought about change.
The Museum will serve future generations as an education center that delivers the story, a policy center for the study of Civil Rights in Education, and a provider of community outreach services to support area citizens.
The Moton Museum’s History
The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the Robert Russa Moton Museum (Moton Museum) being open to the public. The Moton Museum was founded in 1996 by the Martha E. Forrester Council for Women.
In 1995, Prince Edward County declared the Moton building surplus. The Martha E. Forrester Council, a women’s civic association instrumental in Moton’s 1939 construction, spearheaded a community fundraising effort to acquire the building. In 1996 the Council republished Bob Smith’s They Closed Their Schools: Prince Edward County, Virginia 1951-1964, and established the Moton Museum as a separate 501(c)(3) organization. Moton was named a National Historic Landmark in 1998 in a special ceremony with a keynote address by National Park Service director, Robert Stanton.
The Museum celebrated the 50th anniversary of the student strike in 2001 with the opening of the museum’s first exhibits. The year 2004 brought a visit by the National Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission in January and the launch of the regional based Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail in May, which continues to be facilitated by Virginia Crossroads, a regional tourism consortium.
The year 2008 began a period of transformation, as the Moton Museum endorsed Moton 2011, the plan to open the museum’s permanent exhibit on April 23, 2011. In 2013, Moton completed renovation of the facility and opened its first permanent exhibition, The Moton School Story: Children of Courage. In 2014 the Moton Museum and Longwood University announced intentions to explore joint affiliation that would preserve the museum’s site and educational mission in perpetuity. In 2015 a formal partnership was finalized by the Museum’s Board of Trustees and Longwood University. Through the partnership, the Moton Museum and Longwood University continue to serve as a national model for university-museum partnerships.