The introduction of this reading laid out the history of Prince Edward County and how the district withdrew from all things public school. Strikes started in 1951 with the protesting of unequal school facilities. As the county withdrew from open public schools, nearly 2,700 African American studies were locked out from their local school. It would take until the 1970s for schools to be meaningfully integrated. What I found most interesting about this section was that white citizens also suffered from the schools closing, not as bad as it was for those in the African American community, but suffered from being unwilling or unable to send their children to white private schools.
The first chapter was on white supremacy and black resistance in Prince Edward County. The school board denied requests for more African American teachers. In turn, the African American community started to raise money to build a new school and pay teachers. In the fall of 1935, there were 469 students in a school that could hold 325 (pg. 22). This chapter then discussed how “segregation in Virginia often took the forms of quiet cruelties” (pg. 26) with a limited number of beds available in hospitals for African Americans. The author then introduces Barbara Johns who helped to start the planning for the Moton High School strike. Attorney’s petitions demanded an end to school segregation in that county and then there were discussions of equalization vs desegregation. A court case was the result of everything going on at MHS and judges did admit that Moton was lacking a lot of what the white schools had. At this point, the Supreme Court was not in a rush to take on the case.
The second chapter focused on how Southern states were fiercer in their resistance to the desegregation of schools. The Virginia Governor at the time asked those in positions of power to keep accepting segregation within the county. This was then backed up as the PEC Board of Supervisors said that it would be impossible to operate a non-segregated school system in Virginia (pg. 52). Fifty-four weeks after the Brown decision, the Supreme Court revealed how desegregation would be carried out. By 1957, three of the five school districts involved in Brown had begun desegregation, except for Prince Edward and Claredon County. After the Brown II decision, PEC citizens went to the Board of Supervisors to ask that no funds be appropriated for public schools if they were required to integrate. Later, Arlington became the first to announce an integration plan. There was a larger push for segregation coming from politicians and the Defenders of State Sovereignty as the groups became more enlightened about maintaining white supremacy.
The next chapter focused on how massive resistance across the county started to collapse. The author also examined how North Carolina approached desegregations and that they relied on school localities rather than by the state. The author noted that they would have a better chance of being held up in court by doing this. For the 1958-1959 school year, the court ordered school integration. By September of 1958, the US district court ordered that the Warren County School Board to admit 22 black students (pg. 83). But by June of 1959, schools were still segregated.
The last chapter focused on how the public schools opened back up and the protests of the Summer of 1963. That summer there were protests throughout the county and the Free Schools and African American community confirmed that they were outsiders who were concerned with the education crisis in the county. Many around the states also feared that the school closings would affect the states ability to lure in new industry. In 1962, Supreme Court justices reversed the state appeals court decision and concluded that PEC schools could not remain closed while other schools continued to operate. Two years later, the Supreme Court recognized that closures affected more blacks than whites. In October of 1964, schools were open but were still lacking a lot of educational/school necessities. The next step was getting African American community members on the Board of Supervisors and by 1969 there were two on the board.
I really enjoyed this reading and thought that it was very interesting. I knew about Price Edward Country from reading Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County, but I didn’t know about a lot of the things that the author covered. I enjoyed the reading because it was definitely beneficial to have the information as I go into teaching.