Commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

February 26, 2010
by Jamar M. Lovelace '10

MLK DayOn Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, several members of the Minority Student Union visited Moton Museum located in the former Robert Russa Moton High School.  Moton  was the first high school in Farmville available to black children.  This school changed the lives of many when educational opportunities were severely limited for African-Americans.  Moton High School was one of the public schools closed in Prince Edward County as part of  "Massive Resistance" to school integration. 

At the Moton Museum, several members of the Minority Student Union participated in a forum on the effects of the school closings and the sentiments of the community at that time.  The chief participants were A.D. "Chuckie" Reid and Carl Eggleston.  Their participation was essential to understanding community sentiments.  Both Reid and Eggleston were teenagers during the time the schools were closed, and each provided his reactions, sentiments, worries, and hopes at that time.

Each recounted his experiences during the school closings and the effects the closure had on the town of Farmville, especially, on the African-American community.  Mr. Eggleston said that when he was able to attend the reopened public high school after two years, he was very eager and excited to be able to learn again and be like the white children whom he saw going to school daily.  Mr. Reid, who did not attend school for the full four years that the public schools were closed, said that he had close relationships with volunteer teachers and tutors and his desire to learn is the same drive that pushes him to be successful today.

In addition to the presentations and open discussion, several members of the Minority Student Union, Jamar Lovelace '10, Michael Ware '11, Michael Vi '11, and Zachary Pierce '12, each read from the book Bound for Freedom, written by Neil V. Sullivan, which related the events surrounding the school closings in Prince Edward County.  The powerful excerpts provided a contextual picture of this dark period in American history.

The Hampden-Sydney students who participated in this event better understood the impact  of the school closings on community and individuals and how many of those individuals developed a strength that enabled them to cope with a tragic situation and drove them to successful futures.