The Robert Russa Moton Museum mourns the passing of Deaconess Louise Willis Foster. Foster who died on Friday, November 11, in Prince Edward County was the last remaining parental plaintiff in the civil case Dorothy E. Davis, et.al. v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, et.al.
April 23, 1951 students at the racially segregated R. R. Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia walked out on strike in pursuit of equal educational facilities. The student strike lasted two weeks, and on May 23, 1951 – a mere month later – 117 student plaintiffs and their parents filed Civil Action No. 1333, Davis v. Prince Edward calling for the desegregation of the county’s public schools.
Davis was consolidated with similar cases from Delaware, Kansas, South Caroline, and Washington, DC. Decided under the Kansas case, Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court on May 17, 1954 concluded “that in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” thereby declaring racial segregation in America’s public schools unconstitutional.
The children and parents of Davis were honored at Moton in April 2011 – the 60th anniversary of the walkout – with Deaconess Foster on hand to be recognized for her courage in signing her name to the petition allowing her three children; Lottie Celeste Willis, Daisy M. Willis, and Robert A. Willis to challenge racial segregation as practiced in the nation’s public schools.