October 13, 2008
The buses stopped, the doors were locked and the lights were turned out in the Fall of 1959 in opposition to the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board decisions of 1954 and 1955. How were public school students of Prince Edward County going to get the education they were promised in the American dream?
Baptist minister L. Francis Griffin, Jr. and A.M.E. minister A. I. Dunlop worked with the administration of Kittrell Junior College, an A.M.E. supported institution in Vance County, North Carolina, to enroll 63 students from Prince Edward County in the senior, junior and sophomore classes of the college’s high school program.
From Saturday, October 25 through Monday, October 27 the Robert Russa Moton Museum will host a reunion for those students that traveled to North Carolina to continue their education at Kittrell Junior College. The event, “My High School Years in Junior College,” Moton School and Kittrell Junior College: The AME Connection, welcomes all those and their families to attend what promises to be a memorable weekend of classmate catch-ups, shared old memories and guest speakers to include Bishop Philip R. Cousin and Elder Goodwin Douglas.
“Attending Kittrell gave me the opportunity to get the high school education I was being blocked out of due to the closing of the public schools,” said Marie Walton-Jackson. “Kittrell and the A.M.E. church opened doors that were closed.”
“As well, I am excited about the opportunity to be with those that became my family while living so far from home at such a critical time. I would like to encourage all those that participated in the Kittrell experience to join in this uplifting reunion.”
The Moton Museum invites those that attended Kittrell Junior College at the time of the public school closing to get in touch with the museum at 434-315-8775 or Marie Walton-Jackson at 973-761-1372 for further information and registration for the weekend’s activities.
In addition, the Museum is hopeful that the planned reunion-symposium will provide a template for future events to explore the Prince Edward County Diaspora of 1959-64; an opportunity to reconnect with these student pilgrims and to answer the questions, “Where did they go? What did they accomplish? and What are they doing now?
The Moton Museum, a National Historic Landmark, is housed at the site of the April 23, 1951 student walkout led by 16-year-old sophomore Barbara Johns which led to Virginia’s representation in the Brown decisions. The student protest launched Prince Edward County’s 13-year struggle for Civil Rights in Education. From the Moton Student Strike to Brown, from “Massive Resistance” to the School Closings, from the “Free Schools” to the Griffin decision, the Museum conveys the story of the era.