In 1951 a group of African American students at Robert R. Moton High School in Prince Edward County, Virginia, organized a strike to protest the substandard school facilities provided for black students. The walkout, led by 16 year old Barbara Johns, is one of the great stories in the struggle for Civil Rights—a story of courage and persistence against what seemed at the time like overwhelming odds.  Larissa Smith Fergeson  (Longwood University) provides the historical context to the walkout; Lacy Ward Jr. (Moton Museum) interviews two students who participated in the strike and Mildred Robinson (University of Virginia) describes the effects on students and families when the Virginia government closed the schools rather than succumb to the federal mandate to integrate them.


Want to dig deeper? Explore Encyclopedia Virginia:

Moton School Strike and Prince Edward County School Closings

Massive Resistance

Desegregation in Public Schools


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