Irene McVay, Civil rights activist visits PECPS

Published 11:11 am Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Irene McVay, best friend of Barbara Rose Johns and co-organizer of the R. R. Moton High School walkout, shared her story with students at Prince Edward County Public Schools (PECPS) on Friday.

McVay and Johns grew up together in Prince Edward, and their 1951 protest against segregation at Robert Russa Moton High School is considered a landmark event in the Civil Rights Movement. However, McVay’s desire to change the world began earlier than that. She recently told “Buffalo News” that even as an elementary school student, “I knew a change had to come.” This desire for change manifested in the walkout, which was the first of its kind in the United States.

Following high school, McVay moved to Buffalo, New York, where she became an educator in the public schools. Mirroring her own experiences at R. R. Moton, she decorated hallways and hosted assemblies for Black History Month. She also founded an African dance troupe at the City Honors School.

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McVay visited Prince Edward County Elementary and High Schools while in town. PECPS is thankful to have hosted this inspirational woman during her visit, and hopes that students will apply her messages of social justice and equality to their own efforts.