Owning Prince Edward County's History

Published 3:54 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Editor, The Herald:

During these less than desirable economic times we need to look for ways to capitalize on and marshal our resources. Prince Edward County has a long and varied history. This is a virtual goldmine that we need to bring to the forefront and put it to work for the County. We've got some things in the works like the High Bridge Trail. But we need to bring all of the pieces together so that it tells a complete and cohesive story.

I had the good fortune to drive from Virginia to Alaska last year. It took us through Whitehorse, Yukon. As soon as you get to that town you understand what Whitehorse's history was all about. It figured very prominently in the gold rush. It was evident every place.

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One of the historical resources in Prince Edward County is the Robert Russa Moton Museum that focuses on how the county struggled with the issue of integrating its educational system. What does that mean on a national level? It means that Prince Edward County did the hard work of dealing with this national issue while the rest of the Nation watched to see what the end result would be. It also meant that the rest of the nation benefited from that hard work. This was a significant 13-year history from within Prince Edward County that served the nation. We need to do a better job of “OWNING THAT HISTORY”.

This history can be a major Economic Development Opportunity for the County. In the past 3 years this history has brought more than $4,000,000 into the County from major entities like Kellogg, Virginia Dominion, Virginia Tobacco Commission, only to name a few. When those entities ask what support is offered by local government we should be able to say that there is 100% backing. At present we can't say that. This can be a major piece of the economic development of Prince Edward County if local government would see it as an investment in the future and not as a liability.

On a night in June of 2008 a wonderful event took place in front of the Court House in Farmville. The Board Of Supervisors illuminated The Light Of Reconciliation in the bell tower of the Court House and a year later installed a plaque apologizing for closing public schools in 1959 for the next 5 years. That was heart-warming. Unfortunately, it appears that county leaders saw that as closure and “it is now all behind us”. Rather, it should be used as a way to incorporate this history as a resource that can benefit the county going forward.

Let's own this history and put it to work for Prince Edward County.

Robert L. Hamlin

Prince Edward