History in the making

Published 11:34 am Tuesday, March 27, 2018

It was both exciting and gratifying to see interviews and filming take place at the Robert Russa Moton Museum for a documentary expected to air on HBO in early 2019.

Among those who spoke were Cainan Townsend, director of education & public programs; Kristen Green, Prince Edward County native and author of the New York Times Bestseller, “Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County;” Joy Cabarrus Speakes, Prince Edward County native who was a student at Moton High School when Barbara Johns led a student walkout in 1951, and Mickie Carrington, a Prince Edward County native who was a student at the time of the public school closings.

The documentary focuses on vouchers and education choice, and its potential to tear resources away from the public school system, often at the expense of students and faculty of color. It holds as much relevance locally and nationally as it did in the Town of Farmville and Prince Edward County in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Green noted that the decision from the Griffin v. School Board of Prince Edward County case not only ruled school closings unconstitutional, but also outlawed voucher payments that were used during that period.

Students taking action in response to racial and economic inequality, similar to the walkout led by Johns, also holds relevance today as students are leading walkouts and other events to create societal change.

Speakes, who was interviewed by Director Paul Traynor and Executive Producer T. Rafael Cimino, saw firsthand the change created from Johns and other students’ courage, and commended today’s students for doing the same.

We hope the documentary will bring needed issues to light, and serve as a reminder that all of our actions are integral to how society will progress, or regress.

EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Emily.Hollingsworth@FarmvilleHerald.com.