The Children Speak

FARMVILLE, VA.    Fayetteville State University professor and Prince Edward County native Terence Hicks lectured on the book he edited about the county’s closing its schools rather than desegregating.

Hicks also signed autographs on his book, “The Educational Lookout of African Americans in Prince Edward County, Virginia (1959-1964.)” during the Saturday, March 13, 2010 program at the Robert Russa Moton Museum.

Hicks said the seven-chapter book could be used as a supplement to the U.S. History book and course, and he has approached the Prince Edward County Public Schools about using it as a textbook. There is also an instructional companion guide.

“It is an unique situation when the students actually read the book material,” Hicks said. “The book is most likely talking about their grandparents.”

Erenest Miller, Assistant Principal at Prince Edward County High School, applauded the book and said it would be good research material for county students.

“This is the kind of material our young folks need,” Miller said. “This is what we need to bring our children closer to what the generations prior to them endured.”

Hicks said five of the book’s seven contributors are from Prince Edward. “It’s Prince Edward County natives talking about Prince Edward,” Hicks said.

Among the writers is fellow Prince Edward native Michael Herndon, who wrote the seventh chapter, “Reflections of African American Parents, Teachers, and Students in Prince Edward County, Virginia, 1959-1964.”

Herndon, who, like Hicks attended Moton when it was still used as an elementary school, said the school system has been more successful in its desegregation efforts than the other four systems that formed the famous Brown v Board of Education case in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down segregated schools.

Herndon encouraged everyone to buy the book “for your children, and your children’s children – so we will never forget and we will not allow such an atrocity again in Prince Edward.”

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 sophomore 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 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 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. For more information visit the museum’s web site at http://motonmuseum.org <http://motonmuseum.org/> .

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