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Virtual Event Planned To Commemorate 70th Anniversary Of Student Walkout

National Archives
Moton High School Auditorium

Moton Museum - Longwood University

This Friday marks 70 years since students at Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia walked out of class to protest racial segregation in Prince Edward County public schools in a moment.

The Moton Museum, which is located at the former school’s building, will host a virtual event tomorrow to commemorate the anniversary. WMRA’s Calvin Pynn reports.

Moton High School was overcrowded and run down in 1951, with no hope for an expansion. So, a group of students at the all-black school, led by 16-year-old Barbara Johns, left class and staged a strike.  

CAMERON PATTERSON: This student walkout led to a local court case which becomes one of the five that will make up Brown v. Board of Education.

Cameron Patterson is the executive director of the Moton Museum.

Cameron Patterson - Executive Director

CAMERON PATTERSON: Following Brown v. Board, as Virginia goes through this period of massive resistance, Prince Edward County makes the unfortunate decision to close its public schools for five years in 1959.

The county reopened their public schools with full integration in 1964. Patterson said the movement can be a utility to navigate ongoing racial inequality in 2021.   

Credit Farmville Herald
NAACP Protest Farmville Courthouse 1961

PATTERSON: It really is a powerful story of students that used the tools around them to help create change, whether its through the legal system, the way they organize, through their advocacy efforts, etc.

To learn more, visit motonmuseum.org/live.

For WMRA News, I’m Calvin Pynn.   

Calvin Pynn is a radio reporter, writer, and photographer based in Harrisonburg, Virginia.