Note: Updated Event Time- 11 am. Christopher Bonastia, author of Southern Stalemate: Five Years without Public Education in Prince Edward County, Virginia, will be holding a book talk at the Robert Russa Moton Museum on Friday, March 23, 2012 at 11 am.
Christopher Bonastia first learned about the Prince Edward story when he read Richard Kluger’s Simple Justice as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. The book introduced him to the course of events that led to Prince Edward County’s inclusion in Brown v. Board of Education and sparked a life-long interest in the story.
“In the two-plus decades since then, while exploring civil rights history in considerable depth, I have found that the Prince Edward story is rarely included in accounts of the movement,” Bonastia said.
He recognized that Prince Edward was a missing piece in America’s history books. This omission motivated him to not only explore the Prince Edward story but to share it with the world. “I believed that the events in the county should not remain in the shadows of history,” stated Bonastia.
The product of his research is the book Southern Stalemate: Five Years without Public Education in Prince Edward County, Virginia, published by the University of Chicago Press.
Bonastia’s book details Prince Edward County’s struggle to move from a segregated to an integrated system after the schools reopened and he hopes that it will teach the public about “the broader context of the school closings.”
“I don’t think one can comprehend why the county abandoned public education without knowing what was happening socially and politically, in the county, the state and the nation,” he said. “It’s crucial to understand how and why the closings occurred, and how people—black and white—responded inside and outside the county.”
“As Skip Griffin told me, the closings ‘didn’t happen like a bolt out of heaven.’”
To access the complete interview, click here.
The Robert Russa Moton Museum is a Civil Rights Museum housed in the former R. R. Moton High School. Moton is committed to the preservation and positive interpretation of the history of civil rights in education, specifically as it relates to Prince Edward County and the role its citizens played in America’s struggle to move from a segregated to an integrated society.