The events that started in Prince Edward County in 1951 still reverberate today in so many ways. Please contact us to share your stories and moments of inspiration.
We have all been there. At the end of a long, busy day we are tired and ready to go home. Such was the case one day with Gwen Bailey, who is the Deputy Clerk of the Senate of Virginia. Gwen Bailey walks by the portrait of Barbara Rose Johns that hangs on the first floor of the Capitol every day. She can see the Civil Rights sculpture that features Barbara Johns and her classmates on the grounds of Capitol Square every morning and evening as she walks to her office. But this day in particular, something caught her attention. In her own words, she tells the story.
“While leaving the Capitol Building one afternoon, I was approached by a visitor with his young son who asked for directions to the Barbara Johns statue. He had grown up in Prince Edward County and his minister was the president of Ms. Johns’ class during the strike to protest school conditions.”
She invited him inside the Capitol to see the portrait of Barbara Johns that had recently been installed on the first floor.
“When we reached the portrait his face beamed with pride and joy. However, it was not long before the beam changed to an expression of pain and sadness.
“’I am so sorry that she did not live to see this portrait hanging in the state Capitol building,’ he said.”
“In an attempt to comfort him, I shared what a proud moment the unveiling of the beautiful portrait had been for her family and friends. When his sadness did not leave, I tried again.
’You and your son should go outside to the statue and give Ms. Johns a high-five!’ I said. He smiled, and we left the building in silence.”
“Once outside, I thanked them for visiting the Capitol, directed them to the statue and walked toward my vehicle. Upon reaching the Capitol gates, I turned to watch a child running with an outstretched hand to Barbara Johns. My face beamed with pride and joy.”