Moton Staff Stays Busy with Programs, Gearing up for Grand Opening Next Year

A busy April that featured a gala and preview of the film “Strike: April 23, 1951” and a visit by NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous is behind, and an equally busy October that will feature a visit by members of the General Assembly and a reunion is on the way. All as the Robert Russa Moton Museum moves toward its April 23, 2011 grand opening.

On October 22, the museum will host a visit by representatives of the Virginia Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission’s Special Subcommittee on the 50th Anniversary of Public School Closings in Virginia.

The special subcommittee is responsible for planning and coordinating the statewide observance of the 50th anniversary of the closing of public schools in a number of Virginia localities and the 55th anniversary of the historic 1954 U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown decision.

Also, Oct. 22-25, the museum will host a reunion to honor those who attended school from 1959 until 1963 in the neighboring localities of Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg and Nottoway counties, and Petersburg.

Those interested in attending should contact Patrice Carter at 434-315-8775 or by email at Patrice.carter@motonmuseum.org.

“The goal of the weekend is for current day students to understand what people did between 1959 and 1963 to confront a lack of education,” Museum Director Lacy Ward Jr. said.

When the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors cut off funding to the public schools and forced the closure of the system it displaced thousands of students. A private school opened that some county students attended, but all others either ended up in another locality if not another state or simply did not go to school.

The museum has previously honored students who went to Kittrell Junior College in North Carolina, which offered a high school program, and the students from Queens College in New York who tutored displaced students during the summer of 1963.

Meanwhile, on October 21, the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail Conference will be held in South Boston.  Moton is one of over 40 sites currently on the trial, which supporters believe could expand and be used to help promote tourism as an economic development tool.

The Robert Russa Moton Museum is located at 900 Griffin Boulevard, Farmville, Virginia. It is the site of the April 23, 1951 student walkout, led by 16-year-old junior Barbara Johns, in protest of inferior educational facilities. 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 landmark 1954 Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision.

The museum is establishing a permanent exhibit that will trace Prince Edward County’s 13-year struggle to establish an integrated school system. The exhibition will be in place by April 23, 2011, the 60th anniversary of the student protest. It will offer the only place in the Commonwealth of Virginia where visitors can come to understand the processes by which citizens and their national, state, and local governments resolved the policy issues of segregation in public education.