Robert Russa Moton Museum

Robert Russa Moton Museum

Infobox_nrhp | name =Robert Russa Moton High School
nrhp_type = nhl

caption =
location= Jct. of S. Main St. and Griffin Blvd., Farmville, Virginia
lat_degrees = 37
lat_minutes = 17
lat_seconds = 28
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 78
long_minutes = 23
long_seconds = 52
long_direction = W
locmapin = Virginia
area =5 acres
built =1951
architect= Unknown
architecture= Classical Revival
designated= August 05, 1998cite web|url=
title=Robert Russa Moton High School |accessdate=2008-04-15|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing|publisher=National Park Service
added = October 24, 1995cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]
governing_body = Local

Robert Russa Moton Museum in the town of Farmville in Prince Edward County, Virginia is a museum which serves as a center for the study of civil rights in education.

It is housed in the former R. R. Moton High School, also known as Robert Russa Moton High School or Farmville Elementary School, notable as the site of a historic civil rights action by the students of a poorly-equipped segregated public school. Their initiative ultimately became part of the landmark "Brown v. Board of Education" case decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1954.

Both the school and the museum were named for Robert Russa Moton (1867-1940), a noted African-American educator from central Virginia who was a protégé of Dr. Booker T. Washington. In the early 20th century, he headed the schools which became Hampton University and Tuskegee University, important organizations in producing black teachers and other professionals.


Prince Edward County is the source of "Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County", a case incorporated into "Brown v. Board of Education" which ultimately resulted in the desegregation of public schools in the U.S. Among the fives cases decided under "Brown", it was the only one initiated by students themselves, after they walked out in 1951 to protest overcrowding and poor conditions at their school under Jim Crow laws.

The all-black R.R. Moton High School, named after Robert Russa Moton, a noted educator from neighboring Amelia County, did not have a gymnasium, cafeteria, or teachers' restrooms. Due to overcrowding, three plywood buildings had been erected and some students had to take classes in an immobile school bus parked outside. Teachers and students did not have desks or blackboards, The school's requests for additional funds were denied by the all-white school board. In 1951, students, led by Barbara Rose Johns, staged a walkout protesting the conditions. The NAACP took up their case, however, only when the students—by a one vote margin—agreed to seek an integrated school rather than improved conditions at their black school. Then, Howard University-trained attorneys Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill filed suit.

In "Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County", a state court rejected the suit, agreeing with defense attorney T. Justin Moore that Virginia was vigorously equalizing black and white schools. The verdict was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Subsequently, it was one of five incorporated into "Brown v. Board of Education", the landmark case which in 1954 overturned school segregation in the United States. As a result of the "Brown" decision, and changes in Virginia laws, in 1959 the Board of Supervisors for Prince Edward County refused to appropriate "any" funds for the County School Board at all, effectively closing all public schools rather than integrate them. Prince Edward County Public Schools remained closed for five years.

A new entity, the Prince Edward Foundation, created a series of private schools to educate the county's white children. These schools were supported by tuition grants from the state and tax credits from the county. Prince Edward Academy, the all-white private, was one of the first such schools in Virginia which came to be called segregation academies.

Black students had to go to school elsewhere or forgo their education altogether. Some got schooling with relatives in nearby communities or at makeshift schools in church basements. Others were educated out of state by groups such as the Society of Friends. In 1963–64, the NAACP-sponsored Prince Edward Free School picked up some of the slack. But some pupils missed part or all of their education for five years.

When the public schools finally reopened in 1964, they were fully integrated. Historians mark that event as the end of Massive Resistance in Virginia.

In modern times, Prince Edward County Public Schools now operates single Elementary, Middle, and High Schools for all students, regardless of race. They are:
*Prince Edward Elementary School
*Prince Edward Middle School
*Prince Edward High School

Many of the segregation academies eventually closed; others changed their missions, and eliminated discriminatory policies. Prince Edward Academy was one of these, and was renamed the Fuqua School.

The former R.R. Moton High School building in Farmville became a community landmark. It was selected to house the Robert Russa Moton Museum. In 1998, it was declared a National Historic Landmark.citation|title=PDFlink| [ National Historic Landmark Nomination: Robert Russa Moton High School / Farmville Elementary School; VDHR File No. 144-53] |32 KB|date=1998|author=Jarl K. Jackson, Julie L. Vosmik, Tara D. Morrison and Marie Tyler-McGraw |publisher=National Park Service and PDFlink| [ "Accompanying 7 photos, exterior and interior, from 1995"] |32 KB] citation|title=PDFlink| [ National Register of Historic Places Registration: Robert Russa Moton High School / Farmville Elementary School; VDHR File No. 144-53] |32 KB|date=December, 1994|author=Jarl K. Jackson and Julie L. Vosmik |publisher=National Park Service] |32 KB]


External links

* [ Robert Russa Moton Museum official site]
* [ Robert Russa Moton High School, one photo, at Virginia DHR]
* [ "Brown v. Board: Five Communities That Changed America," a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan]

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