Federal Stimulus Funds Benefits Moton Museum

July 8, 2009

Put down Treyvon Ayers to be among the visitors to R.R. Moton Museum in 2011 when it opens a permanent exhibition surrounding the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Brown decision striking down the concept of separate but equal education.

Ayers had never been to Moton Museum before he started his current summer job at the repository, but said the experience has been good and beneficial.

“I never knew,” the 18-year-old Buckingham County resident and business administrator major at Piedmont Community College in Charlottesville said. “It’s nice. I have to come back.”

“I learned some new things; met new people … It’s just a good experience.”

Ayers is one of more than 125 youths between 14 years old and 22 years old working through HOPE Community Services Inc. HOPE is using federal stimulus funds to pay the youths to work for nonprofit and community service groups in Prince Edward, Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Nottoway and Lunenburg counties.

“It’s been so long since we had a summer youth program in the area we decided to try it out,” said Kitty Smith, executive director of HOPE. “For young people a summer job is just the ultimate (way) to have their own money for the summer.”

Ayers said he does maintenance work at the museum such as cleaning windows and mopping floors. Other youths in the program are working for organizations such as Goodwill, Madeline’s House for abused women and Habitat for the Humanity, Smith said.

The youths work four days and spend the fifth day in training efforts such as learning how to avoid gang activity, learning the consequences of drug use and about health care, Smith said.

The mission of the Moton Museum is to preserve and positively interpret the history of Civil Rights in Education, specifically as it relates to Prince Edward County and the role its citizens played in America’s struggle to move to an integrated society. The Museum is an educational resource for the Commonwealth of Virginia, accessible to students, educators and the public at large.  The economic development potential of Civil Rights tourism has been well documented by the states of the Deep South.

The Moton Museum is located in the former R. R. Moton High School at 900 Griffin Boulevard, Farmville, Virginia.  Moton was the site of the April 23rd, 1951 student walkout in protest of inferior educational facilities led by 16-year-old sophomore Barbara Johns. The Moton strike launched Prince Edward County’s 13-year struggle for civil rights in education and resulted in the filing of Davis v. Prince Edward, which called for an end to racial segregation in public education.  Davis was decided, along with four other cases, in the Supreme Court decisions Brown v. Board (1954) and Brown II (1955) in which the court ruled that school boards must act “with all deliberate speed” to desegregate.

Treyvon Ayers works with Moton Museum Administrative Assistant Tina Jarvis.