Combining hard-hitting investigative journalism and a sweeping family narrative, this provocative true story reveals a little-known chapter of American history: the period after the Brown v. Board of Education decision when one Virginia school system refused to integrate.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision, Virginia’s Prince Edward County refused to obey the law. Rather than desegregate, the county closed its public schools, locking and chaining the doors. The community’s white leaders quickly established a private academy, commandeering supplies from the shuttered public schools to use in their all-white classrooms. Meanwhile, black parents had few options: keep their kids at home, move across county lines, or send them to live with relatives in other states. For five years, the schools remained closed.
Kristen Green, a longtime newspaper reporter, grew up in Farmville and attended Prince Edward Academy, which did not admit black students until 1986. In her journey to uncover what happened in her hometown before she was born, Green tells the stories of families divided by the school closures and of 1,700 black children denied an education. As she peels back the layers of this haunting period in our nation’s past, her own family’s role—no less complex and painful—comes to light.
At once gripping, enlightening, and deeply moving, Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County is a dramatic chronicle that explores our troubled racial past and its reverberations today, and a timeless story about compassion, forgiveness, and the meaning of home.
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About the Author
Kristen Green has worked as a reporter for the Boston Globe, San Diego Union-Tribune, and Richmond Times-Dispatch. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. This is her first book. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Table of Contents
A Note to the Reader ix
Part I Separate But Not Equal
1 A Perfectly Charming Southern Town 7
2 Homecoming in Black and White 23
3 Prince Edward Joins Brown v. Board of Education 37
4 My Family's Part 57
5 Locked Out 73
Part II The Lost Generation
6 The Segregation Academy 89
7 Waiting and Seeing 101
8 Nigger Lovers 115
9 "You Go Where Your Parents Tell You To" 121
10 Elsie's Other Life 133
11 The Hour Is Late 139
12 A Bus Ticket and a World Away 147
13 Then and Now 159
14 Brown Stokes the Flames 163
15 Two Steps Forward, One Step Back 177
16 Building a Life Without a Foundation 199
Part III Integration
17 "We Are All God's Children" 207
18 The Schools Today 221
19 "We All Wish It Hadn't Happened" 237
20 A Healing Place for the Community 245
21 The New Normal 259
Recommended Reading 303
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I admire ms green for writing this book,