Oral histories from DOVE traveling exhibit now available online

Oral histories and documents collected during the DOVE traveling exhibit ‘School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve and Empower’ are now available in the DOVE Digital Collection at Old Dominion University Libraries. The collection also contains materials from the early 1950s through the 70s. Among the dovelogoregions represented in the collection are the City of Norfolk, Prince Edward County, Southside Virginia, Charlottesville and the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Included in the collection are photographs, documents, newspaper clippings and other items. Additional material will be added in the future.

Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE) Project Earns National Award for a Key Supporter, AARP Virginia

Warren Stewart at DOVE event in Hampton with Brenda Andrews, publisher of New Journal and Guide and Sonia Yaco

CHICAGO—AARP Virginia and Dr. Warren Stewart received the J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The award will be presented at a ceremony during the Council of State Archivists and SAA Joint Annual Meeting in New Orleans, August 11–17, 2013.

The award honors an individual, institution, or organization that promotes greater public awareness, appreciation, or support of archives. AARP Virginia and Stewart, its past president, provided support for Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE), a history preservation project. DOVE, hosted by Old Dominion University Libraries, is a collaboration of archives and libraries that finds, locates, and encourages the preservation of material related to school desegregation in Virginia. In 2012, AARP formed a partnership with DOVE and civil rights groups to promote public awareness of the importance of preserving this history. The partners held “School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve, and Empower” events throughout Virginia, which featured an exhibit on the history of school desegregation, documentaries, and workshops.

The nominator, DOVE founder Sonia Yaco, noted that Stewart has a “lifelong belief in the importance of diversity in society [and] has shown tremendous dedication to preserving what he calls ‘the sad and glad stories’ of how schools became integrated.”

Established in 1989, the award is named for the noted American historian J. Franklin Jameson. Past recipients include the NBC program Who Do You Think You Are?, U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and The Chicago Tribune.

DOVE exhibit at Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History, Nov. 6 – Dec. 16

Paula Martin Smith with DOVE exhibit

Paula Martin Smith with DOVE exhibit

The missing pieces of Virginia’s history puzzle are the thousands of untold stories of personal experiences with integration.  DOVE (Desegregation of Virginia Education) was created to find, catalog, and encourage the preservation of records that tell the story of Virginia’s school desegregation process.  From segregation to Massive Resistance to desegregation, people bore witness to emerging social change.  Their stories help us to understand the enormity of the struggle that brought about that change.

This event includes:

  • Sharing historic photographs, documents, and memorabilia
  • Recording your story (from 1950s to the 1980s) about desegregation
  • Viewing film footage of local history
  • Taking part in a Community Dialogue

This event is sponsored by the collaborative efforts of the Danville Historical Society, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History, AARP,  Virginia NAACP, and Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc.

Opening Reception
Saturday, November 10,2012
3:00-6:00 PM

Bring letters, photos, fliers, and posters about school desegregation to donate to DOVE and the Danville Historical Society or to be scanned for digital archives. Call “C.B.” at 434-7934-5644 to schedule a recording time.

Danville Museum of Fine Arts & History
975 Main Street
Danville Virginia

Southside “School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve, and Empower” events

"School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve, and Empower" event at History Museum of Western Virginia

Theodore Delaney at “School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve, and Empower” at History Museum of Western Virginia

The History Museum of Western Virginia and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture hosted the “School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve, and Empower” in Roanoke Virginia in July and August.

More images of Roanoke exhibit

“School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve, and Empower” tours a success!

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:

Brian DaugherityVisitors to Hampton exhibit
Virginia Commonwealth University

Sonia Yaco
Old Dominion University

Desegregation at Capeville Elementary School in Townsend Va.


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.

DOVE, NAACP, AARP and Urban League Launch Traveling School Desegregation History Project

Promotion Postcard for EventsDesegregation 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.