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Town Helps Moton Museum

FARMVILLE – The Town of Farmville is partnering again to put Moton in motion.

Town Council unanimously approved an application by the Town for $200,000 in Virginia Community Development Block Grant Local Innovation Funds.

Working jointly with the Commonwealth Regional Council on the application, council members listened during their meeting this month as the CRC's Andre Gilliam explained the nature of the grant.

The Town is applying on behalf of the Moton Museum, with the funding targeted at the permanent exhibit.

“Five classrooms are being converted in the museum galleries, which tell the story that relates to the 1951 student strike at the R. R. Moton High School,” Gilliam explained.

The total cost of the permanent exhibit is $1.1 million, with the Town hoping to win just under one-fifth of the amount needed through the CDBG grant.

“These grant funds would help install the lighting in the five galleries and also architectural reconstruction,” explained Gilliam, who said other funding sources for the project include $415,000 from the Tobacco Commission, $350,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, $50,000 from the National Education Association, $50,000 from the Reynolds Foundation, $20,000 of the museum's private funds, and $15,000 from the Seay Foundation.

Gilliam noted the project “would have community benefits as far as improving tourism and would also provide eight jobs, from which five would be (for) low to moderate income (persons).”

Moton Museum executive director Lacy Ward explained to The Herald these two major projects represent the culmination of Moton 2011: the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail Tourist Center and Moton 2011 – the Permanent Exhibition.

The Town assisted the museum with grant funds for the former, as well.

The Tourist Center is funded by VDOT through a grant managed by the Town of Farmville and a matching grant from the Virginia Tobacco Commission.

The Tourist Center, Ward noted, is an “adapted reproduction of one of the Tar Paper Shacks whose dilapidated state motivated the Moton Student strikers of 1951.

“Interpreted externally, the building internally will function as a tourist center with way finding (directions), food services, offices, and restrooms,” Ward said in an email.

The Permanent Exhibit within the Moton School, Ward said, tells the story of Prince Edward County's 13-year struggle for civil rights in education from the 1951 student walkout to the opening of the county's first integrated schools in 1964.

“With these two projects,” Ward said, “Moton becomes the fully functioning Civil Rights Museum the community can take pride in.”

As Ward wrote in a recent memorandum to major donors, “We are delighted to be at a point where project completion is in sight.”