Following Griffin’s example

Published 3:30 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Residents of the Heart of Virginia celebrated the 101st birthday of The Rev. L. Francis Griffin, who was born Sept. 15, 1917, and best known for his efforts to help students affected by the closing of public schools in Prince Edward County as retaliation against integration.

Griffin’s pivotal role between the years of 1959-1964, and long after was to mobilize the community to ultimately restore public schools for African-American students.

A celebration was held in Griffin’s honor at First Baptist Church in Farmville Sunday.

Email newsletter signup

There’s very little that we at The Herald can say to adequately represent the profound influence Griffin had on students, young people, families and the elderly in making civil rights, the rights of his neighbors and the entire county, a reality.

During last year’s celebration at First Baptist Church, which remembered Griffin and Robert Russa Moton High School Student Barbara Rose Johns, who led the school walkout in 1951, Griffin’s son, Leslie “Skip” Griffin, spoke.

He told between 25-30 members of the audience who had been affected by the closing of public schools in the county how his father prayed for them while fighting for their rights to education.

“He prayed every night for your well-being,” Griffin said.

We encourage young people to learn about Griffin’s impact in the Heart of Virginia, particularly in the ways he shaped civil rights and brought equality of education. We encourage our community to listen to people who have been affected by the schools’ closings. We encourage everyone to pay attention to local, state and federal legislation surrounding education, being aware that injustices that took place only decades ago has the potential to resurface in the present and future.

Lastly, we encourage all of us to follow Griffin’s example of advocating for the rights of everyone in the Heart of Virginia.