Honoring the Legacy of Barbara Rose Johns Powell
Barbara Rose Johns Day activities seek to honor the contributions of this iconic civil rights leader and the students of Robert Russa Moton High School who went on strike on April 23, 1951, as they fought for better school conditions.
This celebration is marked with a reflection upon the integral role that faith played in the life of Barbara Rose Johns and the Prince Edward Civil Rights Movement as we join with her home church Triumph Baptist. Additional educational and family-friendly activities are planned at the museum during this week as we offer tribute to Barbara Rose Johns and the impact of the fellow Moton student strikers as they helped to bring about change for our country.
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 340
Designating April 23, in 2018 and in each succeeding year, as Barbara Johns Day in Virginia.
Agreed to by the Senate, February 7, 2017
Agreed to by the House of Delegates, February 21, 2017
WHEREAS, Barbara Johns played a unique role in the early years of the Civil Rights movement by leading the only student protest associated with the Brown v. Board of Education ruling; and
WHEREAS, Barbara Johns was educated in segregated public schools in Prince Edward County and attended R. R. Moton High School in Farmville, which was designed to house 180 students but enrolled close to double that number; and
WHEREAS, Barbara Johns and other students at R. R. Moton High School struggled with leaky ceilings and freezing cold in the winters; parents of black students appealed to the all-white school board, which constructed tar paper shacks to handle the overflow of students; and
WHEREAS, frustrated by the school board’s lack of action regarding the unequal facilities, Barbara Johns, then a 16-year-old junior at R. R. Moton High School, met with several classmates and planned a student strike to protest the difficult conditions; and
WHEREAS, on April 23, 1951, Barbara Johns delivered a memorandum to teachers announcing a special assembly, and when teachers and students arrived at the assembly, they were surprised to find Barbara Johns preparing to reveal her plan for the strike; and
WHEREAS, the students of R. R. Moton High School agreed to participate in the protest, and Barbara Johns and her fellow strike leaders met with the school superintendent to inform him of the protest and demand a new school; and
WHEREAS, Barbara Johns also sought legal counsel from the NAACP, which agreed to provide assistance as long as a lawsuit would challenge the segregated school system; the ensuing case of Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County reached the Supreme Court of the United States along with four other similar cases and formed the basis of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling; and
WHEREAS, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County was the only school integration case initiated by a student strike, making Barbara Johns a pioneer in the peaceful protests that were a hallmark of the Civil Rights movement; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED by the Senate, the House of Delegates concurring, That the General Assembly designate April 23, in 2018 and in each succeeding year, as Barbara Johns Day in Virginia; and, be it
RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Clerk of the Senate transmit a copy of this resolution to the family of Barbara Johns so that they may be apprised of the sense of the General Assembly of Virginia in this matter; and, be it
RESOLVED FINALLY, That the Clerk of the Senate post the designation of this day on the General Assembly’s website.