Legacy Program Funds Sought: PE To Consider Contribution

Published 1:40 pm Tuesday, July 21, 2015

PRINCE EDWARD — County supervisors will look to dig a little deeper than a $200 sponsorship to assist the school board with its “Honoring Our Legacy” program.

“Mr. Chairman, I would recommend that we not only sponsor $200, but I would think that we could do a little better than that,” Prospect Supervisor Calvin Gray said at the board’s July 14 meeting.

The request will go to the board’s finance committee for a further look. Committee chairwoman Patty Cooper-Jones told The Herald Friday that she would like to see the county give $1,000, though she recognizes she is only one vote.

Email newsletter signup

She said that it’s going to “be a forever kind of thing, and I just feel like we really should support it.”

The Legacy program, supported by the school board and open to the public, is set for Saturday, Sept. 12. It will honor local civil rights leaders, including the late Barbara Johns, the late Rev. L. Francis Griffin and former Superintendent Dr. James M. Anderson.

School Board Chairman Russell Dove told The Herald that organizers hope to raise between $4,500 and $5,500 for the program outside of the school’s budget. While they have raised enough for signs and plaques for each site, Dove said he is a “little discouraged at the rate of the donations coming in, but I’m encouraged that probably 70 percent of them are at the sponsorship level, which is … $200 or more. So, I’m encouraged by that, but am a little discouraged or concerned that we haven’t got a better response on the number of requests that we sent out.”

At the special event, the high school’s auditorium will be named in honor of Johns; the middle school cafeteria in honor of the Griffin; and the school board’s meeting room for Anderson.

Sixteen-year-old Johns led a walkout of students at R.R. Moton High School (located at the corner of Main Street and Griffin Boulevard) on April 23, 1951, to protest unequal school facilities. Her actions, and those of others, eventually led to the court case that became part of the Brown Supreme Court decision that ended segregation in public schools nationwide.

Rev. Griffin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmville, picked up the mantle of the civil rights struggle. It is his daughter whose name is on the court case decided by the Supreme Court (Cocheyse J. Griffin, et als, v. County School Board of Prince Edward County), which effectively declared that if Prince Edward did not operate public schools there could be no public schools in Virginia because it was a denial of equal protection of the law.

Dr. Anderson served as superintendent of the county’s public schools for 25 years, leading the school division following the reopening of the public schools. (Rather than integrate, Prince Edward closed its public schools from 1959 to 1964.)

Contributions at the $200 level or more merit sponsorship recognition at the event. Dove said they are trying to raise the funds outside of the school’s budget.

The committee is also attempting to nail down funding as far in advance of the event as possible. They have to make some decisions regarding the program that they cannot make until the money is there.

Dove reported they have invited some VIPs, including the president and first lady — who haven’t said yes or no — the governor and first lady of Virginia, and U.S. senators. Among those who are scheduled to appear are Anderson and relatives of Griffin and Johns.

The families are excited about the honor, and Dove said he is, too.

(Anyone interested in donating to the program can call 434-315-2151. Donations can also be sent to the Prince Edward High School Legacy Fund, P.O. Box 873, Farmville VA 23901.)