Saturday, September 8, 2018

"Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, A Virginia Town, and a Civil Rights Battle"

I make a book recommendation: "Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, a Virginia Town, and a Civil Rights Battle", by Kristen Greene. 

The book has a Greensboro tie. It is a fascinating story about Prince Edward County VA (Farmville) public schools completely closing down for five years (1959-1964) in reaction to Brown vs The Board and opening a 'whites only' academy with the public school money. There was no school option for children of color in the county during that time. (It was the only school system in the country to completely close down as a result of Brown v Board.). 

The Prince Edward Academy (whites only) was going broke in 1993 when billionaire JB Fuqua contributed $10M dollars to upgrade it. He hired creative, brilliant, private school turnaround specialist who grew up in Greensboro and graduated from Page in 1967. She turned this tainted, rundown school around, made it diverse, progressive, academically and athletically strong and moved it into the 21st century. 

It’s a story of the old South, civil rights and segregation, the struggle for forgiveness, reconciliation and atonement. Ruth Shuping Murphy, who JB Fuqua hired and made President and Headmaster, is featured prominently in the book. JB Fuqua (born in Farmville) is also the donor for whom the Duke Business School is named. 

It is fascinating history, story, and a great read.  My wife and I took a day trip to Farmville VA.  We visited the Moton Civil Rights museum (in the old, dilapidated black high school from which black students walked out in 1951), the Fuqua School, and the black First Baptist Church where Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy came and spoke and to lend support to the black community.  I will be attending a lecture at Elon University on Wednesday, September 12, given by author Kristen Greene. The book is the 'community read' for Fall at Elon.  I will update my blog afterward. 

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