Jill Titus, author of Brown’s Battleground: Students, Segregationists, & the Struggle for Justice in Prince Edward County, Virginia, will be holding a book talk at the Robert Russa Moton Museum on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10 am.
Ms. Titus has long held an interest in Brown v. Board of Education. Her interest in Brown, however, quickly developed into a passion for the Prince Edward story when she learned about it as an intern in the National Park Service’s Historic Landmarks program.
“I couldn’t believe that this story wasn’t up there in the public mind with Birmingham and Selma as one of the greatest battles of the civil rights movement,” she said.
“Once I had a taste of the story, I couldn’t help but want to know more.”
Details about a commitment to segregation so strong as to shut down the county’s public school system captured her imagination; the tremendous impact that the school closings had in Prince Edward County and in the nation as a whole inspired her to dig deeper.
“I think the Prince Edward story challenges a lot of our assumptions about the civil rights movement,” stated Titus. “It puts ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges center stage, it reveals the limitations of many different strategies of protest, and it shines a glaring light on the lengths to which people will go to hold onto power and advantage.”
The result of her research is her book entitled Brown’s Battleground: Students, Segregationists, & the Struggle for Justice in Prince Edward County, Virginia.
According to Ms. Titus, “between the significance of the issues at stake, the long-term impact on children and families, and the particular way the struggle touched almost every resident of the county,” the importance of this story cannot be overstated.
Likewise, she encourages all people to learn more about the Prince Edward story, just as she did.
“I think it’s important for people to appreciate the significance of what this community achieved. By bringing suit against those responsible for the decision to close the schools – and sacrificing so many things to avoid jeopardizing the lawsuit – Prince Edward blacks forced the Supreme Court to confront – and eventually block – a potentially massive shift toward “pay as you go” schooling, thus preserving the ideal of education for all.”
The Robert Russa Moton Museum is a Civil Rights Museum housed in the former R. R. Moton High School. Moton is committed to the preservation and positive interpretation of 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 from a segregated to an integrated society.