Longwood, Moton Bond In Perpetuity

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Covenant relationships, perhaps the deepest of moral bonds, aim for parties to mutually look after the other’s best interest. Last week, Longwood University and the Robert Russa Moton Museum announced just such a covenant.

Each will benefit from the association, but each also has much to give the other. We envision only good coming from this new bond.

Longwood and Moton, the covenant outlines, “stand poised to work together in affiliation and in mutual service of their respective public missions: advancing civil rights in education, and the preparation of citizen leaders.”

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“I just see that it’s going to be a positive move for both entities,” Museum Council Chair Dorothy Holcomb told The Herald last week. “And the main thing in my mind is, just the success of the museum and telling the story as a piece of history … Longwood has been very committed to helping us do that and that’s my motivation for moving forward with the affiliation.”

It’s great for Longwood because it’s centrally focused on citizen leadership, University President W. Taylor Reveley IV said. There’s “no better example of that than Barbara Johns, and so it’s just this profound opportunity for teaching and exposing Longwood students to Moton’s history.”

Sixteen-year-old Johns led a student walkout of what was then known as R.R. Moton High School on April 23, 1951, near the present-day intersection of Griffin Boulevard and Main Street 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.

Rather than integrate, Prince Edward closed their public schools from 1959 to 1963.

It is a sad story of lasting personal impact and of a divided community with deep wounds, but it is also one of courage, leadership and sacrifice.

Longwood is known for preparing excellent teachers. We can envision even more students coming, learning of the community’s history, strengthened through this new affiliation and taking its lessons as teachers to even more classrooms across Virginia and the nation.

The value of history is in learning from it. Much can, and will, be learned with this new covenant.

We are also happy to see the end of paid museum admission. While there are costs associated with operating a public facility and admission fees helped pay the bills in the past, this new shared venture has made a valuable history lesson free to those wanting to come and learn.

Even a few dollars can be a barrier to some.

The museum will keep its identity as a 501(c)(3) and the Moton Council will continue to play an important role in future endeavors alongside Longwood.

It will be enjoyable to watch the growth of this committed relationship.

We wish them both well.