After Virginia's school-closing law was ruled unconstitutional in January 1959, the General Assembly repealed the compulsory school attendance law and gave the state's counties and cities the option of operating public schools—the “local option” allowed officials to choose to close public schools. But some Black pupils missed part or all of their education for five years. The Virginia Civil Rights Memorial is on public grounds and can be visited free of charge during the hours of 6am-11pm. Virginia’s civil rights history calls us to do all we can within the bounds of safety to return students to the structure and opportunity classroom learning alone can provide. The NAACP then teamed up with the students and worked to integrate the schools of Prince Edward County. A few made it to college, including Dorothy Holcomb, now 70, who later returned home to Prince Edward and served on the school board. Eventually, Moton students accounted for three-quarters of the individual plaintiffs in the court cases decided together three years later as the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education. Getting our schools safely open again will be a challenge. Here in Prince Edward County, Va., we have lived the history of what it means for students to be deprived of access to in-person schooling for an extended period. "In the Beginning, all America was Virginia. This was a normal 1950s summer day at what was then the only state park for African Americans … Nonetheless, Prince Edward County did not reopen its public schools on an integrated basis until 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed Virginia's tuition grants to private education. Moton High School in Farmville, Prince Edward County, Virginia. Although their protest was intended to persuade their local school board to build them a better school, it actually led to a landmark civil rights case that marked the end of segregation in the nation's public schools. But from poorer and more diverse rural and urban districts, we’ve seen far less engagement. Prince Edward played a key role at two critical moments of American civil rights history — one heroic, one shameful. Ordered by two courts on May 1, 1959, to integrate its schools, the county instead closed its entire public school system. This tells the narrative of a region (Prince Edward County) in the state of Virginia where white supremacists decided to close the schools when the Supreme Court passed Brown vs Board of Education that essentially made segregation of schools illegal. Green, a Richmond-based journalist, grew up in Farmville, Virginia, the county seat of the eponymous Prince Edward County, where white leaders abandoned public education from 1959 to 1964. Most localities, some after legal disputes, moved to integrate their school systems. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. School is essential to any hope of equality of opportunity and to our democracy itself. Today’s pandemic is, of course, a completely different historic circumstance and much vaster in scale. Prince Edward played a key role at two critical moments of American civil rights history — one heroic, one shameful. On April 23, 1951, at the age of 16, Powell led a student strike for equal education at R.R. The federal court based its ruling on the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Moton Civil Rights Museum, a National Historic Landmark. Click here for up-to-date information about where to enter the building. Reverend L. Francis Griffin , a Prince Edward County civil rights activist known as the “Fighting Preacher”, who supported and encouraged the students and their parents, is also featured. In an address to the General Assembly nine days later, Governor J. Lindsay Almond, while sounding defiant, capitulated and asked the legislature to repeal the Massive Resistance legislation. RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The half-mile road leading to a park in Prince Edward County was packed with cars parked on one side and a park ranger directing traffic on the other side. you are looking for the handful of places where this nation’s civil rights revolution began, check out the old Moton High School in Farmville, Va.” – The Toledo Blade That was not the case in Prince Edward County, however. Nearby Counties: Charlotte County, Emporia City County, Lunenburg County, Buckingham County, Nottoway County. This refusal, which continued for five years, was part of the Massive Resistance Movement , a state government policy to block the desegregation of public schools, which effectively closed the doors of the county’s schools. Holcomb is grieving the death of a nephew from covid-19. Civil rights trail adds sites, focus on education struggle. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision, Virginia’s Prince Edward County refused to obey the law. Rather than desegregate, the county closed its public schools, locking and chaining the doors. The right to education was hard-won.