In the Spring of 1951 the student body of Robert Russa Moton High School, in Prince Edward County, Virginia, walked out in protest of unequal educational facilities. The resulting school desegregation lawsuit was part of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which concluded that “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.
The struggle for civil rights took place not just on buses, at lunch counters, or on the streets, but also in classrooms and in courtrooms. The Prince Edward story—the story of the journey from segregated to integrated public schools—is told in the following pages. It is a story in which children played a significant role. The 1951 Moton student strike launched a thirteen-year court battle to achieve educational equality. Davis v. Prince Edward was the only student-initiated case of the five that comprised Brown v. Board. At the local level, Prince Edward County was the only county in the nation to close its schools for five years, between 1959 and 1964, rather than desegregate. In Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, the Supreme Court intervened again to reopen the schools.