Moton Salutes MLK

Published 4:09 pm Thursday, January 3, 2013

FARMVILLE – The Moton School Civil Rights Learning Center (Moton Museum) will salute Martin Luther King, Jr. with a speech by the second-highest ranking officer in the Air Force.

General Larry O. Spencer, Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, will deliver the keynote remarks at a program of commemoration on Saturday, January 12th at 3 p.m.

General Spencer is the son of Selma Gaines Spencer, one of the students who participated in the historic 1951 student strike at R. R. Moton High School against separate and unequal conditions for African American students.

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That strike by those students occurred more than four years before Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama and is considered by many to mark the birth of the modern civil rights movement.

The strike led to legal action against segregation in public schools, with that case in Prince Edward joining four others to combine into the landmark Brown v. Board case and 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The Prince Edward County case, points out Justin Reid, Associate Director for Museum Operations at the Moton School Civil Rights Learning Center, was the only student-initiated lawsuit among those five Brown v. Board cases.

The entire community is invited to attend this free Martin Luther King Commemoration Program, Reid notes.

General Spencer was awarded his fourth star, making him a full general, and promoted to Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force on July 27.

In addition to his own specific duties, if the Chief of Staff of the Air Force is absent or unable to perform his responsibilities General Spencer will also fill that role, which includes advising the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council, while serving on the joint chiefs of staff.

General Spencer's mother was born and raised in Prince Edward County. She currently resides in Maryland. His father, the late Alfonzo Spencer, an Army veteran, was born in Red House.

An uncle, Luther Gaines, continues to call Prince Edward County home.

President Obama appointed Gen. Spencer, who had been assigned as the director of force structure, resources, and assessment with the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, which saw him develop capabilities and conduct studies, analysis and assessment for the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, according to the Air Force's website.
<br />The four-star general is 1979 graduate of Southern Illinois University and received a commission as a second lieutenant via an ROTC program a year later.

Gen. Spencer was born in Washington, D.C. and has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Recognition Ribbon with oak leaf cluster.

The general was also the first Air Force officer to serve as Assistant Chief of Staff in the White House Military Office, serving in that capacity from 1994 to 1996.

In addition to his uncle living in Prince Edward, Gen. Spencer also has an uncle and aunt living in Red House.

The Moton School Civil Rights Learning Center, located at 900 Griffin Blvd., is Virginia's sole National Historic Landmark of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

For more info about this free public event, call 434-315-8775.