Exciting news reached Robert Russa Moton Museum in Farmville, Virginia recently. Virginia Congressman Tom Perriello and Senator Jim Webb announced a $1.026 federal loan. This loan will finance the restoration of the historic Moton High School auditorium where young student Barbara Johns made history, delivering her famous call to action for the walk out on April 23, 1951.
According to Congressman Tom Perriello, “The Moton Museum tells an incredibly compelling story about a very dark period in our history, but does so in a way that educates the visitor and honors those who led the fight for equality. This loan is going to allow the museum to tell the story more fully and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead. Historic resources have cultural, intrinsic, and economic value to our communities and I congratulate the museum on this step forward in realizing their vision.”
Senator Jim Webb added, “This funding will help Robert Russa Moton Museum preserve an important part of Virginia civil rights history, so that future generations can learn from the past and be inspired to challenge injustice.”
When the restoration of the auditorium is completed with the help of this loan, Moton Museum visitors will begin their experience with a dramatization of Miss Johns’ speech, directed by Virginian Tim Reid. Loan funds will also assist in renovating museum administrative offices, the gift shop, and the main entrance corridors to ensure visitors enjoy a world-class experience.
Moton Museum Executive Director Lacy Ward said “We are extremely grateful of the assistance provided by the offices of Senator Webb and Congressman Perriello in making these funds available. It’s been a pleasure working with both of our partners on this deal: USDA Rural Development and Virginia Community Capital.”
The loan funds come from the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Community Facilities program and include $700,000 in direct loans to the museum, as well as $326,000 in additional conditional loans, at a rate of 4% for over a 40 year term. Representative Perriello was the advocate for the USDA loan, and Senator Webb previously requested and secured $100,000 to help support Moton Museum.
Barbara Johns led a student walk out on April 23, 1951 in protest of deplorable conditions at her segregated high school. Following this historic event, a legal challenge was made against Prince Edward County Virginia School Board to address the disparity between segregated schools in the county. This suit eventually became part of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education suit that ordered desegregation of public schools.