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Sunday, July 31, 2005

So how much did white southerners hate blacks?


Denied an education


A New Hope for Dreams Suspended by Segregation

By MICHAEL JANOFSKY
Published: July 31, 2005

FARMVILLE, Va. - Warren Brown was about to enter first grade in 1959 when officials chained up the public schools in Prince Edward County rather than allow black children to sit beside white children in a classroom.

Leola Bailey, Alda Boothe, Warren Brown, Rita Moseley and Barbara Springwere among those locked out of Virginia schools in the 1950's.

Without the resources to send him away, his mother kept him at home for four years, until she found a local church offering classes to black children.

Mr. Brown graduated from high school in 1972, winning basketball scholarships from three colleges, only to turn them down because he feared the academics would have been too challenging.

"I didn't get a proper foundation," he said. "If you're not prepared, what good is the school going to do for you?"

This fall, however, Mr. Brown, at the age of 51, plans to go to college to study criminal justice.

Five decades after Virginia ignored the actions of Prince Edward County and other locales that shut down their public schools in support of segregation, the state is making a rare effort to confront its racist past, in effect apologizing and offering reparations in the form of scholarships.

With a $1 million donation from the billionaire media investor John Kluge and a matching amount from the state, Virginia is providing up to $5,500 a year for any state resident, like Mr. Brown, who was denied a proper education when public schools shut down. So far, more than 80 people have been approved for the scholarships, and the number is expected to rise. Several thousand are potentially eligible, many of them now well into their 60's.

Rita Moseley, 58, was about to go into the sixth grade when the schools were closed. Her mother sent her more than 120 miles away to Blacksburg, Va., to live with an elderly woman and her daughter - "total strangers," she said - just to attend a public school willing to accept black children.

Currently a secretary in the high school she would have been barred from attending, she plans to use her scholarship to study business management.

"A lot of us still feel hurt, anger and bitterness," Ms. Moseley said. "I've talked with grown people, now 50, 60 years old. Some have been able to move on. Some haven't. Some are still trying to figure it all out."

And many, she said sadly, will never have the chance.

Most of the applicants who have come forward still live here in Prince Edward County, deep in the Bible belt of southern Virginia, where an important chapter of America's struggle with civil rights played out. A 1951 lawsuit challenging segregation was consolidated with four others to become the 1954 landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, which said separate but equal education for blacks and whites was unconstitutional.

Officials here largely ignored the decision, emboldened by state law passed in 1956 known as "massive resistance" that created a voucher program to allow white children to attend private schools. The Farmville Herald, the local newspaper, said in a March 20, 1959, editorial, describing efforts by outsiders to enforce Brown, "It is all part of the diabolical Communist plan to disrupt American life and reduce the white race to impotency."

In June 1959, the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors withdrew all financial support of public schools as a way to close them and skirt the order of the Brown decision. Intended for black children, it was a decision that affected white families as well. Even with the state vouchers, not all of them could afford tuition at the private schools, which makes whites eligible for the scholarships as well.


Enough to close the public schools rathet than have their kids educated with blacks

posted by Steve @ 2:48:00 AM

2:48:00 AM

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