From Sen. Mark Warner:
Today marks the 68th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education – the case that ended institutionalized school segregation in America. But did you know that this case partially came from a Virginia native?
Prior to Brown v. Board, during the Jim Crow era, many Virginia schools remained segregated, including the R.R. Moton High School in Prince Edward County, where sixteen-year-old Barbara Johns was a student. After experiencing many years of substandard school conditions, she felt called to action against the injustice of segregation. On April 23, 1951, she led her classmates in a walkout to draw attention to the issue.
The strike attracted local and national attention, and two lawyers from the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the school district as a result. This case would eventually go on to be filed jointly with four other cases and argued in front of the Supreme Court under the name Brown v. Board of Education. I’m guessing you know the rest from here – the Court ruled that there was no legal basis for “separate but equal” and school segregation was officially outlawed.
I’m proud to honor Barbara Johns, which is why I sponsored a bill securing a National Park Service designation for the Moton Museum in Farmville, which honors Johns and all the others that joined in the local fight to end segregation. This bill passed the Senate unanimously and was recently signed into law, and it will help get the Moton Museum the support and preservation it deserves as it keeps this story alive. I also successfully pushed for a statue of Johns to be placed in the Capitol as another tribute to this civil rights hero – and I’m proud to report that the statue is currently in the works.
There’s still so much to do in pushing for true equality – but celebrating the changemakers that have shaped our history is an important part of that. I’m proud to honor Barbara Johns today and to keep pushing for equality on other fronts, too.