The Legacy of Massive Resistance
October 19th, 2013
In 1951 a group of African American students at Robert R. Moton High School in Prince Edward County, Virginia, organized a strike to protest the substandard school facilities provided for black students. The walkout, led by 16-year-old Barbara Johns, is one of the great stories in the struggle for Civil Rights—a story of courage and persistence against what seemed at the time like overwhelming odds. Larissa Smith Fergeson (Longwood University) provides the historical context to the walkout; Lacy Ward Jr. (Moton Museum) interviews two students who participated in the strike; and Mildred Robinson (University of Virginia) describes the effects on students and families when the Virginia government closed the schools rather than succumb to the federal mandate to integrate them. The closure lasted five years and was part of a larger policy enacted by the state called Massive Resistance. Smith Fergeson speaks to people who were students in Prince Edward County at that time about their experience of being locked out and the difficult decisions parents made to ensure education for their children. And Lucious Edwards (Virginia State University) and Allison Robinson discuss efforts to create an archive of research material that accurately reflects the era.