Parents of African-American students petition the Prince Edward County School Board to add seventh grade (and later eighth through twelfth) and thus begin creating a high school for black students.

Read more about this here (part 1)


The first Robert R. Moton School opened (now the Prince Edward Recreation Center on South Main St.): first floor houses black elementary students from the town of Farmville, second floor houses black high school students from the whole county.


After years of petitions from Afro-American parents, the county opens the second Moton building, the now historic Robert R. Moton High School (S. Main St. and Griffin Blvd.), the county’s first building to house only secondary school students from the African-American community. Designed to accommodate 180 students, the school opens with 167. The earlier Moton School becomes Mary E. Branch Elementary School.

Read more about this here (part 2)


Enrollment at Moton High School increases to more than 450 by 1950; refusing to erect a new building to handle such overcrowding, in 1948 the county adds three wooden buildings, covered with tar-paper, around the central brick building.

Read more about this here (part 3)

April 23, 1951:

Moton students, led by 16-year-old Barbara Johns, niece of civil rights pioneer Rev. Vernon Johns, walk out of the school and strike for two weeks to protest the separate but very unequal conditions under which they must study.

Read more about this here (part 4)

May 23, 1951:

African-American parents and the NAACP file suit (Davis v. County School Board) to desegregate the public schools in Prince Edward.

Read more about this here (part 5)

September 1953:

Opening of new, modern Robert R. Moton High School for black students, designed to accommodate 700 students (the present Prince Edward County High School, located 3 miles south of Farmville). The historic Moton High School becomes Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2.

May 17, 1954:

U. S. Supreme Court, in Brown v. Board of Education (lead case of five from throughout the country, including Davis v. County School Board), unanimously rules that racially segregated public schools are inherently unequal and therefore unconstitutional.

Read more about this here (part 6)

May 1955:

After six years of delay and court cases, the Prince Edward County supervisors vote to close public schools rather than desegregate them.

Read more about this here (part 7)


“Free Schools” provide the first significant formal education for African-American children in Prince Edward since 1959.

Read more about this here (part 8 )

September 1964:

Another Supreme Court ruling, in Griffin v. County School Board, forces the reopening of public schools in Prince Edward; the historic former Moton High School building is again Mary E. Branch Elementary School #2.

Read more about this here (part 9)

November 1969:

School board changes names: the newest Moton High School becomes Prince Edward County High School, the historic Moton building becomes Farmville Elementary School.

Read more about this here (part 10)

April 23, 1991:

The fortieth anniversary of the student strike at Moton is observed. First reunion held.

May 1994:

Prince Edward County Branch of the NAACP hosts 40th Anniversary of the Brown Decision. First public call for Moton School conversion to a museum.

May 17, 1994:

New York Newsday publishes article Making It Right in observance of the 40th anniversary of the Brown V. Board Supreme Court decision, stating that the Prince Edward Schools are now a model for the nation.


First reuse study of Moton is prepared by Lawrence E. Williams A.I.A., Richmond showing possible adaptive reuse alternatives for the school. The study was funded by Kellogg, through a grant awarded to the Branch-Moton Historical Society and administered by the VFH.

June 1995:

The Moton school building, renamed the Mary Branch Elementary in 1953 and later renamed Farmville Elementary, is retired from service by the Prince Edward County Board of Education.

January 1996:

Preservation News, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation publishes a major article on the attempt to preserve Moton.


The Martha E. Forrester Council of Women commits to buy the Moton School from the County of Prince Edward for $300,000.


The Moton building is placed on the National Registry of Historic Sites.


Congress appropriates $200,000 to have the National Park Service draw up a plan for converting the Moton building into a civil rights museum.

July 1996:

A strategic plan for the Martha E. Forrester Council is prepared. Titled The Robert Russa Moton Museum: A Center for the Study of Civil Rights in Education, it outlined the objectives for the establishment of the museum and called for the formation of a separate corporation for managing the museum.

August 1996:

Martha E. Forrester Council of Women hosts first annual Moton Weekend. They Closed Their Schools is republished. Author Bob Smith attends book signing.

October 1996:

The Moton High School building is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

October 1996:

The U.S. Congress, in response to a request of Congressman L. F. Payne authorizes and appropriates $200,000 for special assistance and planning for the Robert Russa Moton Museum

November 1996:

Moton project advisory committee convenes for the first time with National Park Service representatives.

January 1997:

R. C. Smith, author of the 1965 book They Closed Their Schools publishes his article Prince Edward County: Revisited and Revitalized in the Virginia Quarterly Review.

May 1997:

National Park Service Northeast Region Director meets with community leaders at Moton School Site. Presents scope of NPS involvement.

August 1997:

Board of Directors for the newly formed Robert Russa Moton Museum is formed.

December 1997:

The Martha E. Forrester Council of Women makes the first payment of $100,000 to purchase the Moton building from the county.

August 1998:

R.R. Moton High School building is designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the highest level of historical recognition offered by the federal government. National Park Service Director Robert Stanton dedicates the new Landmark on August 31st at a ceremony on the lawn at the school.


National Park Service issues its planning study for development of the Robert Russa Moton Museum.

December 2000:

Moton Museum board completes purchase of the Moton School building from Prince Edward County.

April 23, 2001:

Commemoration of fiftieth anniversary of the student strike at Moton High School.