I’m pleased to see that Virginia is planning to honor the students in Prince Edward County who, in a 1951 protest about the conditions of schools for black students, walked out of their school, taking action that helped Virginia to move—however, slowly—toward treating its citizens equitably. Thanks to Barbara Johns, Samuel Williams, Rev. Francis Griffin, Oliver Hill, Spottswood Robinson, and those kids who participated in the event, the Commonwealth is a better place than it was.
The press office of Timothy M. Kaine, Governor of Virginia, issued a press release about events leading up to the unveiling. This is Governor Kaine’s statement in that press release:
“These young students led the charge to create a more just and equitable educational system,” said Governor Kaine, Chairman of the Civil Rights Memorial Commission. “The bravery of the students, community leaders led by the Reverend L. Francis Griffin, and civil rights attorneys drew attention to the racial disparities that existed not only in Virginia but throughout the nation. This memorial will honor their efforts and stand as a reminder of the risks they took to gain full rights for all.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Richmond placed a statue of Arthur Ashe, the leader and athlete, on Monument Avenue (photo from ATXtraveler). I enjoyed seeing it there, and I look forward to seeing this one.
Read the press release from Governor Kaine’s office. See coverage of the run-up to the event from the Richmond (VA, US) Times Dispatch: “A key moment in the struggle: Statues honor pivotal role that 1951 student walkout in Va. played” by Jann Malone. WVEC has a copy of the AP story about the event under the headline “Virginia memorial to honor civil rights pioneers.” You’ll find many of these folks listed among the planitiffs, attorneys, and community supporters of the famous Brown v. Board of Education case that came a few years later.