The Robert Russa Moton Museum welcomes Justin G. Reid as its first Associate Director for Museum Operations. In his new role, Justin will oversee the day-to-day functions of the museum, including all tours, programs and special events. He will also lead the museum’s partnership and community outreach efforts.
Justin, a graduate of the College of William and Mary, brings a breadth of knowledge that includes fellowships with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia and with the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site in Richmond, Virginia. Before accepting his new post, he served as a special projects manager for the museum’s U.S. Education Department-funded regional school innovation initiative.
A Cumberland County native, Justin grew up just seven miles outside of Farmville and has deep family ties in the Town and surrounding counties. His great-great-grandfather, the Reverend Jacob Randolph, Sr., served as an early pastor of the Race Street Baptist Church. Justin’s grandmother, Melrose Randolph Reid, was once a student at “the old Moton School” (now the Mary E. Branch Community Center). For over half a century, his late great-uncle, Warren “Kaiser” Reid, operated the Bland-Reid Funeral Home on Griffin Boulevard.
Growing up in Farmville, Justin remembers only being told bits and pieces of Prince Edward County’s civil rights story. He knew members of his family had been affected by the school closings. “But I didn’t begin asking a lot of questions until college,” he says. “That’s when I began trying to put the pieces together.”
The more he learned, the more the history began to inform his work both in and outside the classroom. He switched from being an International Studies major to American Studies, and at one point considered becoming a history professor. He ultimately discovered public history and the positive impact museums could have on communities.
Justin elected to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, where he visited the District Six Museum, Robben Island and other sites committed to racial reconciliation in post-Apartheid South Africa. Back on campus, he served two terms as president of the William & Mary NAACP. During his tenure, the chapter successfully advocated for a new million-dollar financial aid endowment, a new student diversity center, and a university-wide study of past and present campus-community race relations, an initiative known today as The Lemon Project. He and a group of friends also established C.O.R.E. (Conversations on Reconciliation & Equality), a monthly, campus dining hall, guest lecture-dialogue series.
As an associate director at the Moton Museum, Justin now has the chance to focus in on the community he cares about most. “I know it’s not going to be easy,” he says, “but I’m prepared to reach out, one person at a time.”
Justin wants the museum to be, as one Lock-Out Generation member put it, ‘a place of healing.’ He wants young students to leave knowing the importance of education and to not waste it or take it for granted. He wants all those who come to be inspired to stand up against any injustice. “If we accomplish those three things, then I’ll be doing my job effectively.”
Follow Justin on Twitter: @griffinblvd.