Moton Museum Seeks Citizen Support Tuesday Night At PE Supervisors Meeting

Published 3:20 pm Thursday, June 6, 2013

Editor, The Herald:

I write to you as Chair of the Robert Russa Moton Museum Council and as the Council member representing Prince Edward County Students, 1959-1963.

This coming Tuesday, June 11 at 7 PM in the Prince Edward County Courthouse the Board of Supervisors will consider a request from the Moton Museum to fund a special appropriation for the Children of The “Lock Out” Generation Docent (Museum Guide) Program.

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The Moton School Story: Children of Courage is the museum's newly opened exhibit covering the struggle for civil rights in education in Prince Edward County in the years 1951 through 1964.

This world-class exhibit does a marvelous job of telling the story of the student strike, the Brown decision, Massive Resistance, the school closings, the Free Schools and the Griffin decision. Ours is an inclusive community-centered museum.

The story could, however, be told even more effectively with the assistance of those whose personal history this is – the children – the school-aged residents of Prince Edward County in the years 1959 through 1964.

The museum desires to employ as docents (museum guides) those residents who were school-aged at the time of the closings. We believe they will be most effective in sharing their personal stories with the 35,000 annual visitors the museum is designed to accommodate.

If funded, the museum will fill six full-time equivalency (FTE) positions with: two positions reserved for school-age residents who went without formal education, two positions reserved for school-age residents who left the county to continue their education, and two positions reserved for school-age residents who attended the private schools.

The museum will request an annual appropriation of $102,000 to fund these positions.

It is right and fitting for the county to fund these positions. In the years 1959 through 1964, Prince Edward County did not operate public schools – five years with no local public school system.

In the absence of a public school option, parents and families were forced to either: allow their children to go without formal education, limiting for a lifetime their children's educational and economic opportunities, allow their children to leave the county (with or without family) to seek an education (public or private), draining the county of human resources and placing undue stress upon families, or enroll their children in the under-resourced private school alternative, often at great financial hardship to the family.

The Moton School Story tells the collective story of these families forced by a June, 1959 action of the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors into making such difficult choices.

Others have already contributed much to preserving the story.

The exhibit over the past five years has received financial support from several governmental, corporate, foundation, and individual donors and lenders. We thank them for their investment in Prince Edward County's economic development in the area of heritage tourism.

These donors/lenders at the following contribution levels include:

$500,000 and above:

The Tobacco Commission

USDA-Rural Development

$250,000 to $499,999:

Dominion Resources

The National Education Association

The National Endowment for the Humanities

Virginia Community Capital

$100,000 to $249,999:

The Cabell Foundation

Community Development Block Grant (via the Town of Farmville)

The Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation

Up to $100,000:

The Bob McDonnell Inaugural Fund

The George J. & Effie L. Seay Foundation

The Moton Family Challenge

The Richard S. Reynolds Foundation

Wallace and Mary Gray Stettinius

The VEA Challenge

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

Financing provided by USDA-Rural Development Community Facilities Loan Fund.

I am writing to ask that other county citizens join us in encouraging the Board of Supervisors to join this distinguished list of contributors by funding the Children of the “Lock Out” Generation Docent (Museum Guide) Program.

Dorothy Lockett Holcomb

Chair, Moton Museum Council