NAACP hosts Brown v. Board anniversary weekend at Moton, May 17 & 18

Moton Museum exhibit showing the five communities that produced Brown v. Board plaintiffs. Seventy-five percent of plaintiffs came from Prince Edward County, Virginia.

Prince Edward County, Virginia — the “student birthplace of Brown v. Board ” — will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark school desegregation ruling at the Moton Museum on Saturday, May 17th, and Sunday, May 18th.  The weekend’s Moton events, organized by the Prince Edward County Branch of the NAACP, are free and open to the public.  The Museum will also offer free admission to all visitors on Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

Sat, May 17th, 10am-4pm
Beginning at 10am, guests will tour the museum’s new permanent exhibition, The Moton School Story: Children of Courage. Following the gallery tours, the NAACP will facilitate group reflections and dialogue.  The day will also include several guest speakers and panels on Prince Edward County’s Civil Rights legacy.  Lunch will be provided to paid pre-registered guests.

Sun, May 18th, 8:30-10am
At 8:30am the NAACP will host a special community worship service.  Delivering the sermon will be Rev. Eric Griffin, son of local pastor and Civil Rights hero, the late Rev. L. Francis Griffin Sr.  The Church of All Nations Choir will render the music.

Year-long commemoration continues
This weekend’s activities are part of a year-long commemoration marking Prince Edward County’s role in advancing Brown.  Last month, seniors from Prince Edward Co. High School and Fuqua School commemorated the April 23, 1951 Moton Student Strike with a march down Farmville’s Main Street to the Prince Edward County Courthouse.  Led by 16-year-old Barbara Johns, the 1951 strike produced 75 percent of the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education.  Several local plaintiffs, including Moton Museum trustee Joy Cabarrus Speakes, will join President Barack Obama at the White House on May 16th.  The Moton Museum will also travel to Richmond on May 22nd to receive a special anniversary proclamation from the Virginia Board of Education.

In response to Brown, Prince Edward County closed its public schools from 1959 to 1964.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Prince Edward Free Schools, the Kennedy Administration’s privately-funded effort to educate local children during the 1963-1964 school year.  May 25th is the 50th anniversary of Griffin v. Prince Edward (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court decision that reopened county schools.  This spring Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College hosted several panel, author and guest lecturer events.  Longwood students, faculty and community members also collaborated to produce a commemorative photo magazine and limited edition letterpress art book.

The year-long commemoration will continue this summer during the Moton Mondays Brown Bag Lunch Series, and this fall at the Fourth Annual Moton Community Banquet on October 2nd at Hampden-Sydney College. Virginia Governor Terry McCaullife will deliver the banquet’s keynote.  Tickets go on sale June 1st.