From April through June, the “School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve, and Empower” exhibit toured locations in Hampton, Richmond, Farmville, Lynchburg, Alexandria and the Eastern Shore to gather personal accounts and artifacts from the 1940s to the 1980s related to the desegregation of Virginia schools.
The exhibit, which is display at the History Museum of Western Virginia in Virginia until mid August, is a collaboration of DOVE (Desegregation of Virginia Education), AARP Virginia, Virginia State Conference NAACP, and the Urban League of Hampton Roads. Its goal is to fill in “the missing piece of history’s puzzle … the thousands of untold stories of the people who personally experienced integration. From segregation to massive resistance to desegregation, they bore witness to emerging social change. Their stories help us to understand the enormity of the struggle that brought about that change.”
Read about the success of the project in an InsideODU story by Steve Daniel.
The DOVE project seeks to identify and preserve materials relating to school desegregation. A growing catalog and other information is available from the ODU Library Web site.
For more information contact DOVE co-chairs:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Old Dominion University
DOVE is gathering personal stories about desegregation in Virginia. The day of our “School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve and Empower” in Melfa Va, Evelyn (Ames) Molder sent us this email:
Desegregation as I saw it in 1968 at Capeville Elementary School in Townsend Va. I was 9 years old at the time.
In fourth grade, the wheels of desegregation began. I’d heard family talk about it but I did not know what it meant so I just went about my business. When the day came, I was frightened by some of the white people who felt they were being punished in some fashion for having to bring their kids to this black school. That morning after getting off the bus to school there were station wagons everywhere with big white women on bullhorns calling us niggers and were just mad because their kids had to attend school with us. I was really confused because my parents never spoke that way about anybody I knew. Maybe it was because we were not around white people that much. All I felt was confusion. The police came and dispersed the crowd and school went on as usual. The thing that really got me thinking about how bad this would be was one day when I was on the swings and a white girl was on the one next to me. My mother had done my hair in a bun which meant that a lot of hair pins were there to stop my hair from falling. The girl asked me who put all those nigger pins in my hair. At first I said nothing because I really didn’t know how to react. Was it an insult? So she kept repeating it. I finally got sick of it and punched her off the swing. She ran crying to the principal’s office and even after explaining what happened I was kept after school and she waved good-bye to me while boarding the bus to go home. This type of treatment continued because no one wanted to take on the white parents of the kids causing the problems. I am thankful to the man who was raised with my mother who was a janitor at the school. He left work early and took me home. He said he didn’t want to upset my father who would have hit the roof. Not angry at me but at Mr. Arnold the principle of the school who made me stay after school. He was right. My dad would have gone to his home that night and punched him out. This incident was not the only time that black kids were suffering because of the problems that the white kids would start. Many kids suffered from the teachers as well.
There were many white kids who were very kind and did not disrespect the black kids. Many of those who had physical problems were treated badly by the white kids as well. They were mostly my friends. At that time in school there were bullies who chose not to associate with me as well. So us cast outs played together and talked over our problems. All we had was each other.
It wasn’t easy.
Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE), the collaborative history project hosted at Old Dominion University, joined with AARP Virginia, Virginia Conference NAACP and Urban League of Hampton Roads, on March 14 in Richmond to kick off the project “School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve and Empower.”
The initiative, which includes a traveling exhibit this spring to six commonwealth locales, is designed to encourage the preservation of records that tell the story of Virginia’s school desegregation – through firsthand accounts of people who experienced both the segregation and desegregation of Virginia’s public schools.
As Andrew Heidelberg, one of the “Norfolk 17″ who integrated Norfolk’s all-white public schools in 1959, said at the news conference on Wednesday, “Let’s get the history as told by the people who lived the history.”
Sonia Yaco, ODU’s Special Collections librarian and university archivist, who serves as co-chair of DOVE, shared some stories of Virginia’s desegregation history at the event last week, but said there is much that is lacking in the public record.
“Public records and newspaper accounts tell part of this tale. But still missing are the stories told by those affected by integration,” she said.
“A man called me at Special Collections at ODU Libraries to ask where he could find any evidence of the cross burning, abusive late-night phone calls and death threats he had endured when he enrolled in a previously white rural south-side high school. Where was it recorded?
“A woman emailed me asking where she could find material telling what it was like to be bused for racial balance.
“Where are these stories? For most communities, the answer is nowhere. The experience of black children who walked into white schools, and the stories of the white children who were bused to black schools, is missing from history.”
Yaco said she created DOVE in 2008 to fill this gap, and this new initiative will add more pieces to the Virginia history puzzle.
DOVE, Yaco explained, locates, catalogs and encourages the preservation of materials related to massive resistance, including correspondence, reports, newsletters, photographs, personal papers, organizational papers and first-person accounts.
“We want to find material about those who experienced desegregation and make it available to the public. We have been surveying archives throughout the state for relevant material, and we have created a catalog showing where these various materials can be found.
“Last year, I learned about AARP’s work gathering oral histories from the activists in the civil rights movement. They, in turn, told me about historic photographs – of Oliver Hill and other attorneys who filed the Virginia Brown lawsuit – that are held by the Virginia State NAACP. We recognized that we had a common goal: preserving the history of diversity in education in Virginia. In this mission, we have been joined by the Urban League of Hampton Roads.”
Brian J. Daugherity, Virginia Commonwealth University, co-chair of DOVE, spoke at the press conference about the need to preserve this important history. Two members of the Governor’s administration spoke in support of the project – Lisa Hicks-Thomas, Secretary of Administration and Javaid Siddiqi, Deputy Secretary of Education.
The one-day traveling events this spring will include:
- An exhibit of photographs and documentaries on the history of school desegregation in Virginia.
- The chance for participants to tell their story about desegregation. The public is invited to bring anything that describes their involvement in desegregation to the events: letters, photos, fliers and posters. People can donate them to DOVE or allow them to be scanned for the digital archives. Oral histories will be collected.
- Workshops, voter registration and volunteer opportunities.
The events will be held Saturdays on the following dates:
- April 14—Eastern Shore Community College, Business Development and Workforce Training Center, 29300 Lankford Highway, Melfa, VA 23410
- April 28—First Baptist Church of Hampton, 229 N. King Street, Hampton, VA 23669 from 10:00 Am – 3 PM
- May 5—R. R. Moton Museum, 900 Griffin Bld., Farmville, VA 23901 11:30 – 3:30 PM
- May 12—Armstrong High School 2300 Cool Lane Richmond, VA 23223 9:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
- May 19—Charles Houston Recreation Center, 905 Wythe Street Alexandria, VA 22314 9:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
- June 2—Lynchburg Public Main Library, 2315 Memorial Avenue, Lynchburg, VA 24501 9:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
“We at DOVE are most eager to learn whatever Virginians are willing to share with us about segregation and desegregation and the history of Virginia education,” Yaco said.
For more information about the project, visit the DOVE website, http://www.lib.odu.edu/specialcollections/dove/index.htm.
Refreshments will be served. Registration is required. Call 1-877-926-8300.
For more information, call 1-866-542-8164.
Chaired by: Brian Daugherity
Region 2: Southside: Francine Archer and Wesley Hogan, Virginia State University;
Region 3 – Hampton Roads: Charles Ford, Norfolk State University; Sonia Yaco, Old Dominion University; Thomas Brown, Virginia Wesleyan College;
Region 4 – Greater Tidewater: Bea Hardy, College of William and Mary
Region 5 – Central Piedmont: John Metz and Sarah Nerney, Library of Virginia; Carolyn Parsons, University of Mary Washington; Wesley Chenault and Brian Daugherity Virginia Commonwealth University;
Region 6 – Northern Virginia: Jackie Chohan, City of Alexandria Archives and Records Center; Ann Jimerson; Bob Vay, George Mason University;
Sonia Yaco discussed the recent conversion of the DOVE catalog to Library of Congress’ ReCollection. The Mapping, Timeline and extensive search capability of the new catalog will be particularly useful to researchers. http://www.lib.odu.edu/specialcollections/dove/catalog.htm. Library of Congress highlights the DOVE catalog in their http://viewshare.org/user-stories/ and will be providing more publicity in the future. Bob Vay suggested that a bibliography be added to the DOVE website. Members were asked to add a link to DOVE, http://www.lib.odu.edu/specialcollections/dove/, on their institutional websites.
Sonia also provided a brief demo of online and iTunes U versions of the DOVE training surveying materials.
Brian Daugherity proposed the re-formation of a DOVE grants committee. John Metz and Wesley Chenault volunteered. Possible granting agencies mentioned were:
• Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
• National Endowment for Humanities
• Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR): Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives: Building a New Research Environment
• Dominion Power Foundation
• National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)
DOVE individual and institutional commitment letters was discussed. Sonia will post a sample letter of support on the DOVE blog. The levels of participation are:
• Institutional members (Letter of support required)
• Partners (Letter of commitment required)
• Repositories (Must be an institutional partner; must meet preservation standards; must partner with its regional task force)
Organization and recruitment for regional task forces chairs was discussed. A sample press release is needed – “DOVE is coming to your community. Can you help us find school desegregation documents are?”
Bea Hardy reported that the Greater Tidewater has a volunteer who utilized the interactive DOVE survey training material and is now inventorying W&M records.
Charles Ford reported on a recent meeting of the Hampton Roads task force, that he chaired. Attending were Thomas Brown, Sonia Yaco, Warren Stewart, Member of the Norfolk Board of Education and Dr. Tommy Bogger, Interim Library Director of Norfolk State University. Thomas Brown hopes to use DOVE surveying in his curriculum next semester.
Bob Vay discussed the training that was done by the Northern Virginia task force. Jackie Chohan attended the training and will be surveying her the records of the City of Alexandria Archives and Records Center. Ann Jimerson plans to work on oral histories.
Brian Daugherity reported on Central Virginia (Region 5) activities. VCU recently announced a partnership with the MLK Commission of the General Assembly to begin an oral history project related to civil rights in Virginia. Brian is also participating in a panel discussion at the Virginia Forum in March on the Byrd Organization and school desegregation in Virginia.
The next DOVE meeting is tentatively scheduled for early March in Charlottesville. An informal lunch meeting will be held at the Virginia Forum, in Harrisonburg, Virginia in late March.
DOVE, Virginia State Conference of the NAACP, and AARP of Virginia are working to establish a collaborative partnership. This project has potential to bring together interested persons through education, empowerment, and volunteering. Our plan, using the DOVE Project as a template, is to collect stories and historic documents throughout the state, detailing Virginia’s historic journey to the desegregation of schools, via a series of one-day events held throughout the state. We will use these occasions to display historic documents and photos related to the civil rights struggle and the desegregation of schools; perform workshops designed to empower the community; and register voters.
We are planning to convene a meeting of leaders from around the state who have an interest in being involved in this project. The meeting will be held 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, at the NAACP’s Virginia State Conference office at 1214 West Graham Road, Richmond, VA 23220. Lunch will be served. We hope to make available an audio bridge for those who cannot come in person.
Please RSVP by contacting Patrick Johnson, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or (804) 344-3060, by 12:00 p.m. on Friday, January 20, 2012. We look forward to hearing from you.
Virginia State Conference NAACP/AARP Virginia/DOVE Collaboration FACT SHEET
This project will consist of a traveling exhibit to educate and preserve the memories of school desegregation in Virginia. The exhibit will travel to eight regions in Virginia, lasting one day at each locale. The first exhibit will be the week of February 27th.
The project seeks to preserve the records and memories of the participants in the integration of the public schools in Virginia from the 1940s to the 1980s. The children affected by the decisions made by the various authorities are now in their 50s, 60s and 70s. It is imperative to interview these people before their memories have faded completely. The physical records of these events, both public and private, may also be endangered and need to be cataloged and protected for current and future generations.
Components of the exhibit are:
1. Learn about the history of school desegregation
- A portable exhibit containing photographs, maps and images of definitive historic documents with a timeline of school desegregation events in Virginia
- Documentaries about school desegregation
2. Share our stories
- Collect oral histories
- Scan documents
- Encourage donation of material to DOVE repositories
- Voter registration and education
- Train volunteers for the DOVE project
- Financial literacy workshops by AARP
- Volunteer opportunities for NAACP and AARP
4. Timeframe: February through June 2012
Thanks to Greta Kuriger of George Mason University Library, the DOVE catalog made the leap from a flat file to a multifaceted graphic display. Last May, Greta participated in DOVE’s survey training in Northern Virginia and also went to a Library of Congress workshop about Viewshare, “a free platform for generating and customizing views, (interactive maps, timelines, facets, tag clouds) that allow users to experience your digital collections.” Greta saw that Viewshare had great potential for DOVE. She experimented with some of DOVE data and showed it to Sonia Yaco at ODU. Sonia began working with the Library of Congress to import all of the DOVE catalog data. The folks at LoC were impressed DOVE and asked for Sonia to write about the project’s use of Viewshare. The article is published it on Viewshare’s “User Stories” page.
A full roll out of Viewshare and more publicity for DOVE is expected early next year.
The regional meeting of DOVE for Hampton Roads will be held at the NSU Archives, Brooks Library, November 17. Please contact Charles Ford, the regional chair, for more details: email@example.com, (757) 823-8344.
If you are unable to attend any of the three on-site training session being held around the Virginia this week, you can instead utilize our on line DOVE Records Survey Training. It includes a background of DOVE, brief history of school desegregation in Virginia, a survey tutorial and practice exercises. http://www.lib.odu.edu/specialcollections/dove/training/player.html