On Thursday, February 21st, the Moton Museum will travel an hour east to co-host ‘A Dream Deferred: The 1959-64 Prince Edward County School Closings’ at the American Civil War Center in Richmond. The free public program begins at 7pm. Attendees are encouraged to register by clicking here.
A dream deferred
In response to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board decision declaring segregated schools unconstitutional, the Commonwealth of Virginia began a policy of “Massive Resistance.” When ordered on May 1, 1959, to integrate its schools, Prince Edward County chose to close its entire public school system instead. Schools remained closed for five years.
It would take another Supreme Court ruling – the 1964 Griffin decision – to finally reopen the county’s schools. By then, the lives of nearly 4,000 local school children had been forever changed.
On Thursday, February 21st, three past students will share their firsthand stories. Mrs. Mickie Carrington, Mrs. Dorothy Holcomb and Mrs. Eunice Carwile were all rising 5th graders when Prince Edward closed its public schools. Mrs. Carrington remained out of school for four years until the Kennedy Administration-backed Free Schools opened in 1963. Mrs. Holcomb pretended to live in a dilapidated house in neighboring Appomattox County in order to attend public schools there. Mrs. Carwile’s parents couldn’t afford Prince Edward’s newly established, whites-only private school system, so her family was forced to relocate and start over.
The moderator for Thursday’s panel will be Justin Reid, Associate Director for Museum Operations at the Moton Museum. A National Historic Landmark, the Moton Museum honors the courage and sacrifice of Prince Edward County, Virginia students and families, and their leading role in moving America from segregation toward integration. The museum, now in the final phase of construction, will open its permanent exhibit galleries to the world on April 29, 2013.
The American Civil War Center is located at 500 Tredegar St, Richmond, Virginia. For more information, visit www.tredegar.org or call 804-780-1865.