The Pupil Placement Board was created through Massive Resistance policies by Virginia's elected officials in 1956. The Library of Virginia today shares specific details on how the board operated: "The Pupil Placement Board... was charged with assigning, enrolling, or placing students to and in public schools." It included three, governor-appointed members that assigned students according to "the health of the pupil, his or her aptitudes, the availability of transportation, and 'such other relevant matters as may be pertinent to the efficient operation of the schools or indicate a clear and present danger to the public peace and tranquility affecting the safety or welfare of the citizens of such school district'." Prior to the establishment of this state-level board, school districts or their respective superintendents handled these assignments. The Pupil Placement Board followed the traditions of the individual school districts, focusing their efforts on those students that transitioned to a new school or sought transfer to another school, whether or not that was in the same district or a different district. Although the members of the Pupil Placement board resigned as of June 1, 1960, based on a report to Governor Almond, the board was not officially abolished until 1966 by an act of General Assembly.
Perusing the records of the Pupil Placement Board, there are several important tidbits to know surrounding this time period - all of which are consequential for recognizing the politically-motivated name choice for Shenandoah County's southern campus high school in 1959.
First, some of the records include folders with race-related pamphlets, personal letters addressed to the board, and similar argumentative propaganda to promote racial segregation. These public opinion pieces were read by board members.
Some of the documentation includes sermons like "Fusion of the Races: A Mongrel America Tomorrow," which was delivered by a pastor in Richmond, VA, and focused on the divinity of racial identity and the warning that the tower of Babel holds for pro-integration advocates. Articles and essays by psychiatrists hypothesized the importance of segregation by reminding of the adverse psychological impacts on African American youth. In "Brief Communications: Integrated Schools and Negro Character Development," published in Psychiatry, the authors note: "The very language is alive with negative color connotations: An objectionable deed is a 'dark' deed, an evil look is a 'black' look, a scoundrel is a 'blackguard' or a 'black sheep.' Advertisements, the films, and television foster Caucasian esthetic preferences. Every Negro, child or adult, goes through life unsure of acceptance in the environment which constitutes his social world. We are here concerned, however, with the school situation in which the Negro child finds himself at an age when he may be particularly sensitive to the influences in an environment of such high emotional salience" (1964:72). Also included was Form No. 118 created by the Christian Educational Assn, Union, New Jersey, showing a ten cel cartoon depicting an African American boy and Caucasian American girl marrying and having children together. It concludes: "Wake up for your country's sake, City and State, for your own sake and the future generations sake, and the white peoples sake as well as the colored peoples sake. Our enemies are behind the move. They have been undermining us for the last 30 or 40 years. We are so divided, that if a war started tomorrow, God only knows where we would land. Our enemy is organized - but we are not" (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va) - provided to support an argument against integration.
Handwritten letters, deemed public opinion, reminded the Pupil Placement Board of the problems integration would cause in the community. One anonymous letter began with "VENERAL Disease" underlined at the top and stated: "The Department of Health reported 854 cases of gonorrhea alone among school children in 1955 - 97 percent were Negroes. Now if any white child gets a germ from this truble, the Federal government can be sued..." (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.).
A letter in cursive blue ink reads: "Pupil Placement Board, I just want to say that I hope and pray that any of you that agree to put colored pupils in any of the white schools won't be able to put all your families children in private or all white schools and that a negro will marry some of them, because when they mix in classes they'll mix in activities and then socially. You are really asking for a lot of grief for poorer people who can not afford private teachers, etc... In my Bible the colored descendants were a matter of punishment to Ham, and if God made them different he must have intended for us to live separately. They don't want equal rights. They would rather go to a white tumbled down school than a new all colored school and you all know it too. They have equal schools and teachers now. Don't be stupid. Look further ahead" (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va).
Another typed anonymous letter shares, "Can't you people see what will happen if you keep entering negro's in our white schools mixing them with our white childred, what kind of a race will we have in fifty years from now. PLEASE WAKE UP, The negros have schools of their own why do you want to mix them with our white childred. DO YOU HAVE ANY RESPECT FOR OUR WHITE CHILDREN" (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.).
Stamped June 15, 1962, a long letter to "All Americans" from the White Citizens National Organization for the Betterment of America includes the following sentiments: "...join with us in the national organization so we will be strong enough to put the right people in all government positions, Federal and State. This will preserve the traditional free, God loving peaceful America, which is the American peoples most glorious heritage, that was bought with the sweat and blood of our forefathers, and left to us as a sacred legacy.
"The American negroes have been organized by a certain communistic inspired association. And through with about one third or less of the negroes being organized they have brought about supreme court rulings and law makings that are not only un-constitutional but un-american as well. You see even the inferior negroes know that this can only be accomplished through organization, and has organized. Most of the negroes don't even understand what they are doing by their boycotts and unamerican measures brought about by this organization, but they do understand it takes organization to do it.
"Certainly we the white citizens of America can organize a much larger and more powerful organization than the negroes have, and counteract the actions brought about by this communistic inspired organization.... We... plan to have delegates we can send to all supreme court hearings to oppose what we do not approve of. We will have chosen delegates to meet with the local and state government heads to oppose giving our schools, swimming pools, parks etc. to the negroes; or to cover any other matter of which we do not approve" (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va).
Another cursive script, blue-inked letter shares the following public opinion: "Sirs. I was under the impression that in a democracy the majority had some freedom of choice. The majority of the people of this state do not want integration and you are pouring the negro riff-raff by scores and hundreds into our white schools - you are falling into great disfavor with the people... You are letting a bunch of howling, crocodile singing and praying, jumping up and down negroes scare you to death... What has become of the red blood, in plain English, the guts of the males of our state who are supposed to be leaders?" (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.). The Pupil Placement Board executive secretary responded to every letter, if it was signed and addressed. The previous letter had the following response: "We have your letter of June 24, 1963, which was read to the Pupil Placement Board when it was in session in June. We appreciate your interest" (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.). Each public opinion, no matter how racist, was shared openly at the board's meetings.
That public opinion folder also included pamphlets from anti-integration organizations like the ATAC, which distributed a Racial Facts tri-fold with information derived from various sources claiming:
- "the illegitimacy record of the Negro and the Venereal Disease rate are just as high or higher in the so-called integrated and Civil Rights states as they are in the Deep South"
- "the time honored and history proven custom of segregation has been a major factor in the South's great progress since Reconstruction"
- "segregation provides for better educational opportunities, assembling students of similar interest, background and characteristics"
- "integration would result in miscegenation and a mongrelized population with little pride of race, nation or religion and would thus weaken the United States"
- "the perfect solution to the race problem would be geographical separation but the best alternative is neighborhood and social separation"
- "the races of man are the handiwork of God, as is everything in nature. If He had wanted only one type of man, He would have created only one." (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.)
This sampling of information and pamphlets was only a small part of Virginia's Pupil Placement Board folders in the Library of Virginia. It shows the kind of information that influenced the board. However, there are also meeting minutes, personal interviews or placement records, and correspondence with local superintendents, parents, and more. We will look at correspondence and minutes next week.
In light of the information we first noted above in regards to the Pupil Placement Board's folders, it's important to recognize the inherent bias in the purpose of the Pupil Placement Board. Each student requesting a transfer or moving into another Virginia school (from primary to high) was placed by the board. All white students were automatically assigned to schools for white children. All black students were automatically assigned to schools for black children, which in Shenandoah County meant they were bussed out of county once they reached 7th grade or required to go to a boarding school elsewhere (see Week 42: Education Without Heart). If a parent requested their child transferred to a school in the county, and - because the records do not have one request by a white parent requesting their white child to attend a black school - more specifically, if an African American parent requested their African American child to transfer to one of the whites-only schools in Shenandoah County, they were inflicted to a personal interview, which included the following questions:
- "1. What do you think about and what is your attitude toward the school your child is presently attending?"
- "2. Are you satisfied with the teachers there?"
- "3. With the principal there?"
- "4. The instruction your child is getting there?"
- "5. Is your child progressing generally well and in an orderly manner there?"
- "6. Would the change away from former friends or teachers be really for the benefit of your child?"
- "7. If answer is 'yes' - why?"
- "8. Is the application for transfer being made solely to enforce a so-called 'Constitutional right'?"
- "9. Just what are all the reasons you desire the transfer?"
- "10. What is your occupation?" (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.)
Both parents were required to answer these questions, independently if possible. The board even similarly questioned the child, separately from the parents:
- "1. How are you getting along in the school you have been attending?"
- "2. What do you think about the principal there?"
- "3. About your teachers there?"
- "4. What would you yourself really prefer to do?"
- "5. Why?"
- "6. What do you plan to be when you grow up?" (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.)
In addition, the district superintendent would map the location of the family's home in relation to the current school they were attending and the school to which they requested transfer, as well as provide test scores, age, grade level, and any other information gleaned regarding the child seeking a transfer. As we will see next week, the information was not always pertinent to the child's education.
Ultimately, the Pupil Placement Board, in a telephone conference meeting dated September 9, 1959, claimed the following position: "It has always been the basic position of the Pupil Placement Board that the decision in Brown vs Board of Education was not a decree forbidding discrimination on the sole ground of race or color... there is no obligation upon any State agency to come forth with any plan for desegregation, or any obligation to accelerate the process." (Records of the Virginia Pupil Placement Board, 1957-1966. Accession 26517, State records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.).
How was this received by the African American populace in Shenandoah County? How did this directly impact our schools? We'll explore that next week by turning our attention to relevant Pupil Placement Board minutes and correspondence.
Last week, we read a 9th grader's winning essay from John S Mosby Academy's 1960 essay contest that stated "It stands for the right thing; the separation of the Negroes and the whites. These facts should make us even more determined to build a new school and fight integration. Even after we had built the Negroes a nice, modern elementary and high school combined, they followed Oliver Hill and forced us out of our high school" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 75, No. 50, 29 February 1960, p.3). To understand this essay, as well as Warren County's closure of schools (see Week 45: Rebuilding a Pro-Confederate South), we have to look at a 1954 Supreme Court case and Virginia's race-based laws that guided the public school system.
The 1902 Constitution of Virginia, which was a revision to the 1869 Constitution that had established public education, explicitly stated what had already been implied and practiced throughout the state: "white and colored children shall not be taught in the same school" (Article IX, Sec. 140, 1902). This attitude was amplified as Jim Crow laws and societal expectations separated African Americans from Caucasian Americans across the South. The General Assembly passed the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, as well as several other laws aimed at protecting "whiteness" from race-mixing. In a Health Bulletin from the Virginia Department of Health, which distributed guidelines to registrars for the purpose "to preserve racial integrity," the following guidelines are communicated: "As color is the most important feature of this form of registration, the local registrar must be sure that there is no trace of colored blood in anyone offering to register as a white person. The penalty for wilfully making a false claim as to color is one year in the penitentiary. Equal care must henceforth be used in stating the color of the parents of children registered at birth under the 1912 law" (Vol XVI, No 1, March 1924). This ideal of racial integrity was most alive in eugenics, which led to laws against mixed race marriages, as well as forced sterilization practices on minority groups in America, especially African American and Indigenous American women.
Locally, concepts of racial integrity cropped up in places of worship: "About one-half of the community is enrolled in six churches - four white and two colored" (Strasburg News, Volume 50, Number 1, 6 January 1932, p16). In doctors appointments: "The Warren County Board of Health cooperating with the Virginia State Department of Health-Tuberculosis Out-Patient Service announces that the chest examination of adults by a specialist of the State Department of Health will be held for white people on Tuesday, May 10, between the hours of 9 and 12 a.m. and for colored people between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m. in the nurse's office in the school" (Strasburg News, Volume 50, Number 17, 27 April 1932 p.1). From newspaper sections to public restrooms, civil leagues to playgrounds, separate swimming times in community pools to public schools, and even the right of local businesses to choose whether or not to admit or serve African Americans, segregation was a natural part of life for America into the 1960s.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) set the standard of "separate but equal" (see Week 43: Where's the 'Common Sense Consideration'?); however, a perusal of facilities across the South revealed this wasn't the case in public education, especially as school districts began their school consolidation plans (see Week 44: An Out-of-area Education). This was the foundation upon which Oliver Hill, a Virginian lawyer and World War II veteran, based his work toward desegregation in America. Hill's work regarding the desegregation of public schools began in 1942 with his first lawsuit against Sussex County, Virginia for admittance of five African American girls to schools that served their white population. Like Shenandoah County, Va, African Americans that wanted a high school education were sent out of county. This, Hill argued, was unconstitutional, since the county did not provide equal separate opportunities for the two races. When the school board opted to pay for transportation to send African Americans to the out-of-county school and admit students to the local high school, the case was dismissed. However, the case in Sussex County set a precedent for tactics used to tear down the institution of segregation that had taken hold of our country.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) incorporated several school boards and boards of education around The United States that were embroiled in five different court cases, including one in Prince Edward County, Virginia. Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County (103 F. Supp. 337, 1952) centered around a student-led protest to integrate schools due to the dismal conditions of the African American high school that were refused alleviation through better funding by an all-white school board. Oliver Hill and another lawyer from the civil rights organization that had formed in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), filed suit on behalf of 117 students trying to integrate Prince William County schools. The court rejected this request; an appeal consolidated it with court cases from South Carolina, Washington DC, Delaware, and Kansas into Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and under the helm of American lawyer, Thurgood Marshall. The outcome was a 9-0 vote in favor of Brown after nearly two years of deliberation. The Court stated: "Today, education is perhaps the most important function of our local and state governments... it is the very foundation of good citizenship" (Fauquier Democrat, Vol. 49, No. 24, 20 May 1954, p.6) and concluded that in addition to the 14th Amendment (see Week 5: The 13th Amendment), since public schools were not in place in 1868, they would have to "consider public education in light of its full development and its present place in American life throughout the Nation" (Brown, 347 U.S. 483, 1954). Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered an opinion on the ruling that took into account the psychological impact of students, particularly minority students: "Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to retard the educational and mental development of Negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system" (Brown, 347 U.S. 483, 17 May 1954, p.10). Warren continues: "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" (Brown, 347 U.S. 483, 17 May 1954, p.11).
The impact of Brown v. Board was widespread as the ruling encouraged desegregation "with all deliberate speed." From Little Rock, Arkansas (1957) to the first integrated Virginia schools in Arlington (1959), African American students, often encouraged by their parents and supportive community members, were claiming their right to equal education at public schools. Following the 1954 Brown ruling, then Virginia governor, Thomas Stanley (1954-1958) responded, "I shall use every legal means at my command to continue segregated education in Virginia" ("Integrating Alexandria" in The Connection, 22 February 2006), a position which was followed by future Virginia governors, Governor Lindsay Almond (1958-1962), Albertis Harrison (1962-66), and Mills Godwin (1966-1970). By mid-September 1954, Stanley had drawn together a legislative commission of 32 bi-partisan representatives and senators to "recommend a course of action in connection with the Supreme Court's school segregation decision" (Farmville Herald and Farmer-Leader, Vol 63, No 96, 31 August 1954, p.1). Some of the highlights from this council included not requiring compulsory school attendance, providing tuition grants to parents that opposed integration, and allowing local school boards to choose which schools students attended. "A constitutional convention unanimously proclaimed the amendment yesterday. It will permit legislative enactment of the tuition plan provided in the Gray Education Commission program for avoiding enforced integration in Virginia's public schools" (Southwest Times, Vol 51, No 14, 8 March 1956, p.1).
By February 1956, Virginia was promoting Massive Resistance, an anti-integration strategy orchestrated under the guidance of Senator Harry Byrd, who was central to the political life of Virginia from 1916-1965. "Sen. Byrd called today for 'massive resistance' in the South to challenge the Supreme Court order to racial integration in the public schools... 'If we can organize the Southern states for massive resistance to this order I think that in time the rest of the country will realize that racial integration is not going to be accepted in the South,' he said" (Suffolk News-Herald, Volume 34, Number 48, 26 February 1956, p1). Byrd, whose family lived in the Berryville area and was well-known in the Shenandoah Valley, had been one of the leading figures in the Gray Education Commission and impacted the Almond administration.
The term 'massive resistance' was a play on names of the 'passive resistance' orchestrated mostly by African American clergymen in the 1950s, regarding segregated buses, even before the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organized in 1960. One local paper shared: "Negroes refuse to ride segregated buses in Montgomery, Ala., cradle of the Confederacy. Their leaders, indicted on charges of illegal boycott, call for continued 'passive resistance.'" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 74, No 49, 28 February 1956, p.6). The term, meaning "refusal to go along when the government is considered wrong" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 74, No 49, 28 February 1956, p.6), was derived from Thoreau's philosophical writings on civil disobedience. Instead of focusing on Thoreau, organizers of 'massive resistance' drew their ideals "from ideas expounded by the founding fathers" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 74, No 49, 28 February 1956, p.6).
Those foundational principles were captured in the Southern Manifesto, which was written during the February and March 1956 sessions of Congress. Formally titled, Declaration of Constitutional Principles, the Southern Manifesto denounced the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board as "a clear abuse of judicial power" and encouraged Southern leaders to resist desegregation. Here are highlights from that document that are worth noting:
- "The Founding Fathers... framed this Constitution with its provisions for change by amendment in order to secure the fundamentals of government against the dangers of temporary popular passion or the personal predilections of public officeholders."
- "When the (14th) amendment was adopted in 1868, there were 37 States of the Union... Every one of the 26 States that had any substantial racial differences among its people, either approved the operation of segregated schools already in existence or subsequently established such schools by action of the same law-making body which considered the 14th Amendment."
- "This unwarranted exercise of power by the Court, contrary to the Constitution, is creating chaos and confusion in the States principally affected. It is destroying the amicable relations between the white and Negro races that have been created through 90 years of patient effort by the good people of both races. It has planted hatred and suspicion where there has been heretofore friendship and understanding"
- "We commend the motives of those States which have declared the intention to resist forced integration by any lawful means."
- "We pledge ourselves to use all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation."
- "In this trying period, as we all seek to right this wrong, we appeal to our people not to be provoked by the agitators and troublemakers invading our States and to scrupulously refrain from disorder and lawless acts."
The Southern Manifesto was signed by 112 southern members of Congress, including Virginia's own senators, Willis Robertson and Harry Byrd, and ten representing Virginia from the House of Representatives. Stanley's response to the manifesto was one of hope that it would "be effective in the protection of the rights of the states which have been threatened in so many instances, in and outside the South, and which include the right of operating our public school systems" (Suffolk News-Herald, Vol 34, No 62, 13 March 1956, p.1).
By this time, Massive Resistance included laws that refused state funding to schools that supported integration, gave power to the governor to close schools, and established a state-level Pupil Placement Board for assigning students to schools throughout the state. As we will see, the Pupil Placement Board followed established practices in districts, seeking to reinforce the status quo, which was predominantly a racially segregated school system.
In 1959 with massive resistance found to be unconstitutional, Governor Almond's position highlighted similarities to the massive resistance encouraged by Gray, but framed in a way that allowed for controlled integration over a long period of time, so that the administration did not go against the Brown decision and in hopes that the federal opinion might change. The Northern Virginia Daily shares: "He took occasion to attack the U.S. Supreme Court and said that as governor he 'will not yield to that which I know to be wrong and will destroy every rational semblance of public education for thousands' of Virginia children. The people, 'they and they alone,' will decide these issues, said Almond. He added, 'we have just begun to fight.' He said no price is too high to pay and no burden too heavy to bear 'to protect the people of Virginia in the proper enjoyment of their right and obligation to mold the character and promote the welfare of their children through the exercises of their voice and judgment in their education and development.' Almond declared people of Virginia through their elected representatives and by expressing their convictions at the polls 'have repeatedly made it crystal clear that they cannot and will not support a system of public education on a racially integrated basis. I made it equally clear that I cannot and that I will not break faith with them.' The governor said no parent or guardian 'is under legal compulsion from any source to send a child to a racially-mixed school.' He lauded the magnificent response of people in certain areas to the emergency resulting from the closing of nine public schools. 'The hardships and sacrifices have constituted a challenge to overcome obstacles with the result that fundamentally sound educational progress is being made without chaos or undue confusion,' he said" (Northern Virginia Daily, Volume 77, Number 17, 21 January 1959, p.8).
"In some of the five still wholly segregated states, integration is not even considered a serious possibility in the near future. In the others, there is increasing realization that the time draws nearer when a hard choice may be faced: accept integration or close the public schools. Determination to resist as long as possible and yield only under overwhelming pressure is widespread..." states another local paper. "Virginia's 'massive resistance' program collapsed and it experimented with private schools before adopting a freedom of choice plan. Under it, some schools have integrated. In Prince Edward County, on the other hand, public schools were closed and private schools were opened for white children" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 75, No 24, 29 January 1960, p.7). This freedom of choice plan, which we saw in conjunction with Warren County Public School closure, provided a "local option on school mixing, with the extent of that mixing to be limited sharply everywhere through careful screening under a pupil-placement plan... the U.S. Supreme Court has held that a pupil-placement plan is proper so long as it does not bar Negroes from white schools solely because of race..." thus "it may well be legal to limit drastically the number of Negroes in formerly all-white schools, perhaps for generations, such things as health, location of schools and homes, personal qualifications, etc." (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 75, No 9, 12 January 1960, p.1).
Next week, our focus is entirely on the Pupil Placement Board, as well as its impact on the Shenandoah County Public Schools system, which was then still steeped in Virginia's 1902 law: "white and colored children shall not be taught in the same school" (Article IX, Sec. 140, 1902).
Meanwhile, also in the first part of the 20th century, overlapping consolidation of schools in Shenandoah County, VA, the UDC or United Daughters of the Confederacy was working to promote the education of the Lost Cause narrative throughout the Southern states, throughout Virginia, and even in our own county. We've already seen the UDC's influence in Mt Jackson, with the erection of a Confederate memorial in 1903 (see Week 43: Where's the 'Common Sense Consideration'?) that was supposed to promote "brave men of both armies ... reunited in one great American brotherhood, one citizenship, ... in the pursuits of peace and the promotion of the welfare of our reunited country" (Our Church Paper, Vol. 23, No. 20, 15 May 1895, published in New Market, Va, p.4), but really only promoted the Confederate perspective. The 2017 Vox-created, TEDEd talk, How Southern socialites rewrote Civil War history, shares the truth of UDC's work in perpetuating the Lost Cause narrative in a much more concise way than I can - and includes the following quote by Dr. Karen Cox, author of Dixie's Daughters, who said, "Monuments are the least of what they did... they are the most visible and tangible, but their work with children was far more influential."
The Confederate statue in Mt. Jackson wasn't the first pro-Confederacy monument in Shenandoah County. A memorial service led by the Stover Camp Chapter UDC on May 24, 1963 included "the dedication of the plaques to the unknown soldiers and the 120 known veterans buried in the Lutheran, Riverview and Presbyterian Cemeteries and the Old Graveyard... the monument where the unknown soldiers were buried was erected in 1896 by Stover Camp No. 20, Confederate Veterans, at a cost of $675. Standing 20 ft. high and six-foot at the base, the monument was unveiled on Sept. 20, 1896." At the 1963 event, "the Strasburg High School Band played 'Faith of Our Fathers.' The UDC, the 11 girls that represented the Confederate States, the Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, participated in the strewing of the flowers at the monument." In addition, the pastor of the Methodist Church spoke, saying: "if people today had the courage the Confederate soldiers and the South had during the trying times of the War Between the States, there would be no fear of Communism today. For soldiers to go back to their homes and farms... took more courage than to die on the battle field. Victory came in the re-building of the South" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 78, No. 124, 27 May 1963, p. 1-2).
Rebuilding a pro-Confederate South is exactly what the UDC was doing. The Texas State Historical Association defines the UDC as "a women's heritage organization best known for honoring Confederate veterans of the Civil War, memorializing the Confederacy, and promoting the 'Lost Cause' interpretation of southern history, which positions Old South slavery as a benevolent institution, Confederate soldiers as heroic defenders of states' rights, and Reconstruction as a period of northern aggression, through its monuments and educational campaigns" (United Daughters of the Confederacy, 2023). These key concepts of education and patriotism via remembrance are observable through local newspaper articles. For example, the Manassas Journal shares an article on "Children of the Confederacy Prizes" for 1935, which were issued in connection with the "State and National Convention." Each year, the Virginia Division of the UDC, which was organized in 1894, offered prizes to high school students throughout the state for writing essays based on various pro-Confederate themes. Prizes mentioned in the Manassas article were awarded for impacts in the community by local chapters, including: "to the chapter director who places in school libraries the largest number of books on Confederate history, to be used as supplemental reading," "to the division director chartering the largest number of Children's chapters," and also for written essays, on themes such as "The Right of Secession" (Manassas Journal, Vol. 66, No. 43, 7 March 1935, p.7).
There appear to have been four local chapters of the UDC in Shenandoah County during the first half of the 20th century. Ironically or intentionally, these were located in the same towns where African American primary schools were located: Strasburg, Woodstock, Mt. Jackson, and New Market. The Stover Camp Chapter of the UDC, which was located in Strasburg, VA and most likely the oldest chapter in the county, was widely active in the community according to an October 7, 1915 issue of the Strasburg News along with an appeal: "It is hoped that this committee will be enthusiastically supported by the various communities in which they may work" (Strasburg News, Vol 33, No. 36, 7 October 1915, p.1). By 1964, which coincided with the signing of "the Civil Rights pledge for Shenandoah County" by the School Board (Shenandoah County School Board minutes, 11 January 1964), the UDC no longer appeared in local newspapers. However, prior to its last mention, there appeared to be two particularly active chapters in Shenandoah County: one in Strasburg and one in Mt. Jackson - both locations where Confederate monuments were raised over burials of soldiers - some of whom were identified as Confederate soldiers and others, unidentifiable, which means they may not have been Confederate soldiers. If these graves truly honor the "brave men of both armies ... reunited in one great American brotherhood, one citizenship, ... in the pursuits of peace and the promotion of the welfare of our reunited country" (Our Church Paper, Vol. 23, No. 20, 15 May 1895, published in New Market, Va, p.4), then why does it have to be done only from the perspective of the Confederacy?
Dr. Eakin in Twelve Years a Slave, the 1853 autobiography of free African American Solomon Northup who was kidnapped and sold into slavery through the Reverse Underground Railroad in 1841, shares the impact of education by example on children: "The effect of these exhibitions of brutality on the household of the slave-holder, is apparent. Epps' oldest son is an intelligent lad of ten or twelve years of age. It is pitiable, sometimes, to see him chastising, for instance, the venerable Uncle Abram. He will call the old man to account, and if in his childish judgment it is necessary, sentence him to a certain number of lashes, which he proceeds to inflict with much gravity and deliberation. Mounted on his pony, he often rides into the field with his whip, playing the overseer, greatly to his father's delight. Without discrimination, at such times, he applies the rawhide, urging the slaves forward with shouts, and occasional expressions of profanity, while the old man laughs, and commends him as a thorough-going boy.
"'The child is father to the man,' and with such training, whatever may be his natural disposition, it cannot well be otherwise than that, on arriving at maturity, the sufferings and miseries of the slave will be looked upon with entire indifference. The influence of the iniquitous system necessarily fosters an unfeeling and cruel spirit, even in the bosoms of those who, among their equals, are regarded as humane and generous.
"Young Master Epps possessed some noble qualities, yet no process of reasoning could lead him to comprehend, that in the eye of the Almighty there is no distinction of color. He looked upon the black man simply as an animal, differing in no respect from any other animal, save in the gift of speech and the possession of somewhat higher instincts, and, therefore, the more valuable. To work like his father's mules - to be whipped and kicked and scourged through life - to address the white man with hat in hand, and eyes bent servilely on the earth, in his mind, was the natural and proper destiny of the slave. Brought up with such ideas in the notion that we stand without the pale of humanity - no wonder the oppressors of my people are a pitiless and unrelenting race" (Eakin, Twelve Years a Slave, 2013:155-156).
Education, according to Miriam-Webster, is "knowledge, skill, and development gained from study or practice." And to educate is "to train by formal instruction and supervised practice; to develop mentally, morally, or aesthetically especially by instruction; to persuade or condition to feel, believe, or act in a desired way." The Encyclopedia Britannica states in its entry on the United Daughters of the Confederacy: "The UDC played a central role in spreading and perpetuating the Lost Cause interpretation of the American Civil War, which downplays or dismisses slavery as a cause of the war and instead emphasizes states' rights as the reason for secession and which has been used to serve the goals of white supremacists. The UDC was instrumental in ensuring that the characterization of the war in textbooks conformed to the Lost Cause narrative." (Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "United Daughters of the Confederacy". Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 Sep. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/topic/United-Daughters-of-the-Confederacy. Accessed 13 September 2023).
One of the foundational principles of the UDC was education, especially of pro-Confederate sentiments and in the honoring of Confederate soldiers as godlike heroes. An example of the 1904 catechism that the U.D.C. dispersed to children includes some of the following excerpted sentiments:
" What causes led to the war between the States, from 1861 to 1865?
The disregard, on the part of States of the North, for the rights of the Southern or slave-holding States.
" How was this shown?
By the passage of laws in the Northern States annulling the rights of the people of the South - rights that were given to them by the Constitution of the United States.
" What were these rights?
The rights to regulate their own affairs and to hold slaves as property.
 Did the people of the South believe that slavery was right?
No, not as a principle; and the colonies of Virginia and Georgia had strongly opposed its first introduction, but after the Constitution of the United States had recognized the slaves as property, and the wealth of the South was largely invested in negroes, they did not feel it was just to submit to wholesale robbery.
 What was the first step taken by the seceded States?
They proceeded to organize a government, by uniting themselves under the name of the Confederate States of America, and adopted a Constitution for their guidance.
 Was the Confederate army defeated?
No; it was overpowered by numbers, and its resources exhausted.
 What other purpose have the Daughters of the Confederacy?
To teach their children from generation to generation that there was no stain upon the action of their forefathers in the war between the States..." (U.D.C. Catechism for Children, Encyclopedia Virginia, 1904).
An important note about this catechism: as mentioned in Week 2: Confederate Congress, the Constitution for the Confederate States of America provided for slavery in its constitution; however, America's founding fathers left slavery out of the US Constitution. More specifically, if you were to create a word cloud of the 100 most frequently used words (outside of articles, prepositions, adverbs, linking verbs, and similar parts of speech) of the 1861 Confederate Constitution, it would reveal 167 usages of the word "states," 35 uses of "slavery" or "property," and less than 4 of "free," "independent," or "sovereign." The 1789 Constitution of the United States of America, on the other hand, contains 129 instances of "states" and no mention of "slavery," "freedom," "independence," or "sovereignty." In fact 25% of the most commonly used words in the United States Constitution - "united/union," "equal," "affirmation," "amendments," "ambassadors," "meeting," "ministers," "proceedings," and "trust" - are not mentioned at all in the Confederate Constitution. Similarly, words that are part of the Confederate Constitution that are completely missing from the United States Constitution include: "confederate/confederacy," "appropriation," "departments," "slaves," "territory," "property," "compensation," and "revenue." This all implies that one of the greatest differences between the US Constitution and the Confederate Constitution boils down to slavery and property rights. If we go back farther and create a word cloud for the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union from 1777, "states" is mentioned 142 times and "land," 4 times; there is no mention of "slavery" at all. You also don't find "peace," "faith," or "welfare."
Following the American Civil War, men who fought against the country in which they were born, were offered a second chance, re-established as citizens, and given welfare in the form of pensions. In addition to Confederate soldiers, the widows of Confederate soldiers also received pensions from the U.S. government. A pension notice in a local 1900s newspaper states: "All Confederate Veterans and widows of Confederate Veterans who wish to apply for pensions, whether they have or have not received blanks or applications, should appear personally before the Pension Board of Shenandoah County, in the County Clerk's office, Woodstock... be certain to take with you the evidence to establish your right to a pension" (Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, Volume 7, Number 34, 7 June 1900 p. 3). Keep in mind this is after the dissolution of the Freedmen's Bureau, which was the only source of aid to recently freed African Americans after the American Civil War. Confederate soldiers, who had fought against the United States of America, and the widows of Confederate soldiers were receiving funds from the government throughout their lifetimes, not just for a couple of years. True patriotism would recognize the benevolence of this action, as well as the general clemency directed toward former Confederates, on the part of the United States. Instead, the patriotism promoted by the UDC was more toward the CSA, than to the USA.
Shenandoah County's local chapters of the UDC met monthly, promoting historical scholarship, camaraderie, and community outreach, all with a focus on preserving and honoring the legacy of the Confederacy. The key to all of this was in passing educational information and including children in the rituals and observances of pro-Confederate celebrations. Just like Epps' son imitating the examples he saw around him, the UDC was encouraging children to continue the pro-Confederate observances they were modeling. Each meeting began with "the UDC ritual and pledge of allegiance to the American and Confederate flags" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 76, No. 301, 23 December 1958, p.5). The following shares a list of only some of the actions these UDC chapters undertook to promote their mission in the community over the course of 60 years:
- The Mt. Jackson UDC appointed a committee "to confer with the local high school faculty and request that a program commemorating the birth of Robt. E. Lee, be presented at chapel exercises on January 19" (Northern Virginia Daily, Volume 54, Number 314, 8 January 1937, p.7).
- The Shenandoah Chapter of the UDC (located in Woodstock, VA) paid equal attention to private schools, as well, offering "a picture of Generals Lee and Jackson to Massanutten Academy" in January 1939 (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 57, No. 16, 19 January 1939, p. 7).
- That same month, "the Breckenbridge Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, commemorated the birthdays of Lee and Jackson in the New Market Theatre... with a program by the pupils of New Market graded school and by the High School Glee Clubs. The theatre was filled with capacity and everyone enjoyed the splendid program," which included: an "invocation," an "exercise - Robert E. Lee's Life, third grade pupils," a "Poem - Robert E. Lee - by Fourth Grade pupils," and a benediction (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 57, No. 19, 23 January 1939, p.5).
- In May 1939, Woodstock hosted the convention for the fourth Virginia district UDC, which gathered approximately 200 attendees. And during the summer of the same year, the Shenandoah Chapter held a "Long, Long Ago Party" that featured relics, attire, "etc., of the period of the War Between the States" and also included as "an enjoyable feature of the evening... the old-time melodies sung by local colored singers" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 57, o. 182, 2 August 1939, p.5). The New Market UDC began a similar tradition of such an old-time event on the third weekend of September beginning in 1938, according to the Vol. 57, No. 220 issue of the Northern Virginia Daily.
- The first Sunday in June, 1946, marked decoration day in Mt Jackson, as the town's UDC chapter hosted a memorial service at the Confederate Cemetery (see Week 43: Where's the 'Common Sense Consideration'? for more on this cemetery in Mt Jackson) with a note advertised for "all those participating in the parade... to meet back of the Triplett School" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 64, No. 128, 30 May 1946, p.4.). The following year, the Mt Jackson UDC celebrated its 50th anniversary. It had formed in September 1897 and recalled one of its greatest accomplishments: "the dedication of the Confederacy Monument which was unveiled in the Confederate Cemetery north of town June 4, 1903." The article continues: "this was one of the biggest days in the history of Mt. Jackson and many of the present members had participated as children in that parade" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 65, No. 236, 4 October 1947, p. 3).
- The Stover Camp Chapter UDC in Strasburg voted at their July 1950 meeting to make "equipment of the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Library at the (Strasburg) high school... one of the UDC's main projects for the year" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 68, No. 166, 10 July 1950, p 3). Note this is the high school in Strasburg before the school board's consolidation into three high schools in 1959.
- The following year, Strasburg's UDC held "a program commemorating the birthdays of Lee, Jackson and Maury at the Strasburg High School auditorium" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 69, No. 51, 1 March 1951, p.5). The event included: "salute to the Confederate Flag," music by high school students, and the dedication of a book to the school library.
- In 1957, the UDC reported that it had met all its goals for the year, including the fact that "Stover Camp Chapter in Strasburg has raised its quota for placing Stonewall Jackson's bust in Virginia's Hall of Fame" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 75, No. 58, 9 March 1957, p.3).
- In 1958, "the latest book of Harnett Kane, The Gallant Mrs. Stonewall, was presented... to the librarian of the Strasburg Public school for the school library" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 76, No. 17, 21 January 1958, p. 5).
- By 1959, the Virginia UDC had 4,831 members, with one of the local chapter's goals as "an increase in membership" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 77, No. 36, 12 February 1959, p.6).
- A UDC historian prepared a paper read during the Stover Camp and which stated: "The dispossessed people of the Confederacy displaced a spirit of bravery, courage, faith and hope in spite of what had befallen. They forgot hostilities and looked forward to a new life, rebuilding the Southland, improving their way of living and remembering their Constitutional rights as bequeathed them by their forefathers" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 77, No 81, 6 April 1959, p.7).
- In January 1960, the Strasburg UDC shared a program "to an assembly of students from the fourth through the seventh grades at the Strasburg Elementary school" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 75, No. 19, 23 January 1960, p.6).
- The Stover Camp Chapter continued their tradition of gifting books to school libraries, as well, in honor of Lee-Jackson-Maury birthdays: "a book, Robert E. Lee, and the Road to Honor, was presented to the Strasburg Elementary School" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 75, No. 33, 9 February 1960, p.5).
- In June 1961, during the Civil War Centennial, a memorial service at the Soldier's Cemetery in Mt Jackson drew "hundreds of people from the Valley... and the parade... included children from the Triplett Elementary School carrying flowers, ...members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Mt. Jackson and Strasburg... and Cub Scouts... The Stonewall Jackson High School Band played at the Cemetery before and following the program... The children and UDC leaders placed their bouquets around the base of the monument, and small flags beneath the shadow of the monument" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 76, No. 134, 8 June 1961, p.9). It's important to note that the person responsible for naming Stonewall Jackson High School (and later Ashby-Lee Elementary School) was the guest speaker for this occasion.
- And in May 1962, "in memory of the birthday of Jefferson Davis on June 3, the chapter members voted to donate a book to the Strasburg Community Library" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 77, No. 117, 17 May 1962, p.9). "Other books of interest to students and lovers of the history of the Confederacy are to be found on the shelves of the Community Library and the public is invited to make use of these books" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 77, No. 258, 3 November 1962, p.7).
- In January 1963, the Strasburg UDC decorated "the Community Library windows to honor the birthday of Robert E. Lee," and were "in charge of the student assembly at the Strasburg Elementary School Jan 23, commemorating the birthdays of Lee, Jackson, Maury and Lanier" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 78, No. 4, 5 January 1963, p.5).
- "A committee of five appeared before the Board to discuss tentative plans for commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the battle of New Market on May 15, 1964. Upon a recommendation... passed by the Board that the bands of the three high schools participate in the commemoration program and that the New Market School auditorium be used for the Blue and Gray Ball. It was further recommended that schools in the county be closed on May 15th in order that all students may attend" (Shenandoah County School Board minutes, 12 August 1963).
While all this was happening in Shenandoah County, Warren County had a flurry of news from the Warren Rifles Chapter of the UDC. The most significant points to mention here are related also to education and memorials.
Related to remembrance: the December 1958 meeting of the Warren Rifles UDC mentioned the formation of the Sons of Confederate Veterans - it had "43 prominent business and professional men" as members and needed seven more to form an official chapter (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 76, No. 288, 8 December 1958, p.3). By January 1959, the SCV had 65 members, noted as "the largest chapter in the United States" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 77, No. 8, 10 January 1959, p.3). One of the key goals of the SCV is preservation of Confederate heritage, leaning on the key word "vindication" (see Week 15: The First Annual). According to Meriam-Webster, to vindicate means "to free from allegation or blame; to confirm, substantiate, justify; to protect from attack or encroachment, defend; to avenge." The SCV, which is at work even today in Shenandoah County, VA, was not charged with protecting or defending American heritage, but Confederate heritage. Pro-Confederate heritage groups completely ignore American soldiers that fought in the American Civil War and African Americans, for whom their ancestors fought to keep in bondage; and instead opt to privilege their own pro-Confederate ancestors' histories. In addition, the local paper shared a community celebration of the completion of a UDC Museum on Chester Street in Front Royal in 1959. It describes the occasion: "streets will be blocked, banners will be flown, and the days of the Confederacy will live again" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 74, No 151, 27 June 1959, p.1).
In terms of education, in September 1958 (around the same time grading for the foundation of Shenandoah County's southern campus high school was started and about three months before that school was named SJHS), Warren County Public Schools was taken over by Virginia Governor Almond to prevent integration there. Their public schools were closed. The Northern Virginia Daily shares: "the UDC membership voted on turning their building over for school purposes several days ago" (Vol. 76, No. 229, 27 September 1958, p.1). The UDC museum was one of five buildings used to educate 780 white students in 1959: "another block and you come to the UDC building. Exhibits have been stored away to make room for the youngsters, but still adorning the walls are pictures of Lee, Jackson, Davis, Mosby" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 77, No. 44, 21 February 1959:3). And it continued to be used as a private school for white students the following school year, while African American students entered Warren County Public Schools. "For the second time in less than a year, a mass meeting of Warren County citizens voted last night for the establishment of a private, segregated high school" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 74, No. 191, 14 August 1959:1). The UDC Museum is one of the buildings mentioned for use as a private white school.
In 1960, essays written by white students attending a new private school for Caucasian children in Warren County focused on "Why I Should Support John S Mosby Academy." The first prize 11th grader wrote: "In September 1958 the Warren County High School was closed by State laws to avoid enforced integration. This was indeed a calamity. But did education stop? It did not. Our parents and other interested citizens got busy and established a private school. Classes were held in church educational buildings, in the Youth Center, and in the new Confederate Museum... In the fall of September 1959 the Warren County High School once again opened its doors INTEGRATED! Again a group of interested parents and friends worked to provide a private school for students who did not wish to attend an integrated high school, but this time under the most difficult conditions. In less than three weeks the citizens rented an attractive building, hired teachers, and raised the money needed to run a school... Thus was born the John Singleton Mosby Academy" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 75, No. 50, 29 February 1960, p.3). Mosby was a Confederate colonel. The essay continues: "There can be no hope that things will ever again be the same as they were. Integration of the races seems to be here to stay. Those of us who oppose this way of life have no choice but to set up our own school. We do not want our community to be the kind of community that has grown up in many of the larger cities that have accepted integration with the resulting rise in crime, run down neighborhoods, lowered educational standards, hoodlumism, if there is such a word, and lowering of standards of behavior. We believe that if we establish an efficient school where students come because they believe in high standards of achievement, in accepting responsibilities and in the principle of freedom of choice, we can keep our community from being lowered to the level many larger cities have reached and raise it high above the rest."
The winning essay by the 10th grade student states: "There are many worthwhile reasons why I should give my support. One of the main ones is that of what the Academy stands for. This school was established so those who wished to maintain a segregated school could do so... I think it was wonderful when the people of Front Royal took a stand on what they believed was right and helped bring about this school... By supporting John S. Mosby Academy we can all look back into history someday and can proudly say we had a part in making one of the most successful private schools in the South. Through our efforts we will set an example for the rest of the American people. We will have shown them that we stood up for what we thought was right by supporting John S. Mosby Academy" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 75, No. 50, 29 February 1960, p.3). The ninth grade winning essay: "It has splendid teachers, a few of whom even came out of retirement to help us in our fight against integration. It stands for the right thing; the separation of the Negroes and the whites. These facts should make us even more determined to build a new school and fight integration. Even after we had built the Negroes a nice, modern elementary and high school combined, they followed Oliver Hill and forced us out of our high school. Why couldn't they have been satisfied to go to a nice, modern school? Everyone wondered. It just wasn't right. Just twenty-three Negroes followed Hill, and for the sake of those twenty-three we were out of school for six weeks.... I feel that it is everyone's duty in favor to segregation to support an all-white school. I also feel it my duty as a student and a person in favor of segregation to support the private school... I am deeply grateful to everyone who has made it possible for me to attend a school of my choice" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 75, No. 50, 29 February 1960, p.3).
And the 8th grade winning essay: "In my opinion the John S. Mosby Academy and any private school for that matter, is a blow against integration. The mixing of white and Negro is almost certain to lower the moral of the whites. The desegregation decision of Mr. Warren is thought to be nothing but out and out treason... It has been proven that Mr. Warren's 'Desegregation Decision' aids and abets the plans the Communist Conspiracy to create tension between Negroes and Whites, to transform the South into a Black Soviet Republic, and to legalize and encourage intermarriage between negroes and whites, and thus mongelize the American White Race" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 75, No. 50, 29 February 1960, p.3). Mosby was open for an entire decade, not closing its doors until 1969. In 1960, Warren County Public Schools operated two high schools: "Criser Road School with slightly over 100 pupils for negro students, and Warren County High School, with about 415 students, which operated for the first time on an integrated basis. In addition to those students, about 436 are attending the private John S. Mosby Academy, and approximately 100 others are attending public schools in other localities" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol. 75, No. 82, 6 April 1960, p.8).
Based on these essays and the myriad activities of the UDC, the local chapters of this organization were successful in their educational mission for Shenandoah Valley youth in the first 63 years of the 20th century. In the 21st century, what message do we want to send to our youth today? What community identity do we want to claim? Forcing Confederate heritage and inciting community identity solely around perspectives of Confederate ancestors is not helpful. In the decades to come, on what side of history do we want our names remembered? What do we need to do to truly live out an example that is "reunited in one great American brotherhood, one citizenship, ... in the pursuits of peace and the promotion of the welfare of our reunited country" (Our Church Paper, Vol. 23, No. 20, 15 May 1895, published in New Market, Va, p.4)? And in Shenandoah County, Va, how does that include African Americans; Indigenous, who are the true native populace; and other minority groups that are living here today?
Consolidating schools for economical reasons, standardized education, and more, as described in a 2006/07 Brookings Papers on Education Policy article "School Consolidation and Inequality" by Christopher Berry, was a hot topic in 1930 that continued for the next forty years across Virginia. With requests for school building improvements rising in the magisterial districts, state funds increasing for public education, and several United States grants given for "white school construction projects" (Shenandoah County School Board Minutes, 16 September 1938), Shenandoah County Public Schools began consolidating its one-room schoolhouses in the 1930s, as well as working as a county-wide board, rather than separate district-based entities. The first actual mention of the Shenandoah County School Board is in the January 13, 1937 issue of the Northern Virginia Daily. An article therein states: "The Shenandoah County School Board met yesterday in ... Woodstock when a number of routine business matters were disposed of and current bills approved. No issues of any great importance came before the board yesterday, the meeting being confined chiefly to the above matters and the reading and discussion of various reports. The principals of the high schools in Shenandoah County will go to Charlottesville Thursday to attend a Study Council which will be in progress there on January 14-15-16" (Northern Virginia Daily, Volume 54, Number 318, 13 January 1937 p7).
What isn't stated in this newspaper article is something that had become a white elephant in our county: of all the high schools in Shenandoah County at the time, not one of them served African Americans or other minority groups. Shenandoah County Library's Shenandoah Stories covers information pertaining to the building used until 1937 for the Woodstock Colored School, which began in 1865 when the Freedman's Bureau helped fund such facilities for recently freed African Americans. But in fact, as mentioned earlier (see Week 42: Education Without Heart), only four primary schools served African Americans in Shenandoah County during the early part of the 20th century and two of them had been located in the southern part of the county, from which Mountain View High School, North Fork Middle School, and Honey Run Elementary School now draw their current student population.
If an African American or Hispanic student in the 1930s was interested in continuing his or her education beyond 7th grade, she or he would have to do so outside the county - an action that mimicked the expectations of Shenandoah County during pre-Civil War times when state legislature required any African American freed from slavery to leave Virginia within a year or risk re-enslavement (see Week 18: The Cost of Freedom in 1840). More specifically, our county school board sent our African American high school students to Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth, which became a public, boarding high school for regional African American students in 1938, or to Douglas School (in operation from 1927 until 1966) in Winchester, Virginia; and at one point required parents to cover any costs excessive to what the board was willing to pay (Shenandoah County School Board Minutes, 2 December 1941 and 2 October 1944). African Americans in the southern portion of Shenandoah County later attended the Lucy F. Simms School, which was built in 1938-1939, served the African American communities in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and continued the tradition of segregation that had been adopted all across the South and impacted not only where students were taught, but also encouraged a segregated workforce, as well.
During the 1930s through 1960s, members of the African American community were often hired to drive African American students to school, according to School Board minutes. Since Interstate 81 was not completed until the 1960s, travel to Harrisonburg from Mt Jackson would have been 54 miles round trip and from Woodstock to Winchester, 64 miles. Taking into account speed maximums different from current standards, as well as other driving variables, such a commitment would have equated to approximately 2-3 hours of travel time via Route 11 each day. Caucasian students, on the other hand, attended schools within their local communities or were able to ride a public school bus; and, as we shall see in the coming weeks, received schoolhouses built from new materials, new textbooks, and much more - through board funding without requesting Caucasian parents to pay part of the fees.
These aspects of educational life for African American students, who were as native to Shenandoah County, Virginia, as their Caucasian counterparts, are made evident through the following Shenandoah County School Board Minutes:
- "Woodstock colored school petitioned by ME Zion colored church to tear down the old colored school building and use the lumber to construct a new building" (11 June 1937)
- "Execute deed to Town of Woodstock for the alley way west of Woodstock colored school house" (23 July 1937)
- "No action taken on colored children in New Market bused outside of area" (14 September 1937)
- "Cost for Woodstock colored school was $943.39" (1 March 1938)
- "Small enrollment at Mt Jackson colored school tabled" (8 November 1938)
- "Colored school in Mt. Jackson is to be continued for coming session and $66 allowed to teacher to transport children from New Market to Mt Jackson (the board pays 1/2 of insurance policy covering liability to children)" (8 August 1939)
- "Motion that matter of paying tuition of colored children be undecided until we can get in touch with Dr. Hall to see what action can be taken" (28 August 1939)
- "Board matches $20 raised by colored school at Strasburg for dental work" (6 February 1940)
- "Motion to have Rev. John Langford to be employed to transport colored pupils from Mt. Jackson and New Market to Woodstock colored school and transport of colored high school students" (22 August 1941)
- Board requests superintendent to "express the appreciation of the Shenandoah County School Board to the Regional Board of Control of the Regional High School at Manassas, Virginia for their invitation to enroll colored pupils on a similar basis as those from Warren and Rappahannack counties, and state that we are considering the possibility of educating from 9 to 12 of our negroes in their school next year" (2 December 1941)
- "Turner Mitchell transports colored high school students from Strasburg to Winchester / Marion McPherson transports colored children from New Market and Mt. Jackson to Woodstock" (8 September 1942)
- "Marion McPherson's contract canceled, Theodore Tolliver Jr. selected" (6 October 1942)
- "Greyhound bus schedule chosen for transportation from New Market and Mt Jackson to Woodstock Colored School / Theodore Tolliver's contract canceled" (1 December 1942)
- "Greyhound continued to be used for transportation needs of colored students" (6 October 1943)
- "Board notes they pay $158/pupil for African American students attending school in Manassas and instructs superintendent to let parents of three colored students in Strasburg know they are no longer willing to pay for them to attend Winchester high school any longer due to excessive cost. Any additional costs will be defrayed by the parents" (2 October 1944)
- "Six colored pupils in Strasburg are to be sent to Winchester colored high school (board pays tuition and transport) / Rev. Clarence Davis transports students at $40/month" (10 September 1945)
- "Tuition for colored children in Manassas be paid by board" (4 November 1946)
- "Colored children request to ride school buses is tabled" (1 December 1947)
- "Salary of colored bus driver, Robert Spinner, increased from $40 to $50/month" (5 December 1947)
- "GE Kingan to be paid $4 per day to drive colored children from New Market to Woodstock" (6 February 1950)
- Motion regarding the tuition of Shenandoah County colored students enrolled at Winchester City Schools - for superintendent "to work out some agreement on the expenses of these children" (3 November 1952)
- Board suggests for the superintendent "to write letters to the parents of the colored children who wish to attend school in Harrisonburg" (8 September 1958)
- "Decided to do a survey to study the colored school situation and assess creating a consolidated colored school. The Board is obtaining a colored teacher for Strasburg colored elementary school and taking New Market colored students to Harrisonburg" (9 November 1959)
- "Discussed consolidating Sunset and Creekside (colored schools) in Maurertown" (19 December 1959)
- "No motion secured for consolidating colored schools, but opted for another study" (8 February 1960)
- "Rev. James B. McKay (negro minister of Woodstock) appeared to ascertain progress on the new school for colored students" (14 March 1961)
- "Committee appointed to find suitable sites for negro schools at Woodstock and Strasburg" (10 April 1961)
- "Hannum tract of land suggested in Strasburg for negro elementary school" (7 July 1961)
- "Tract of land adjoining Creekside (in Woodstock) suggested for negro elementary school" (14 August 1961)
- "Made a motion to condemn school sites for negro pupils at both Strasburg and Woodstock" (11 December 1961)
- "Advised Board of Supervisors to approve the condemnation of negro school sites" (20 December 1961)
- "Board of Supervisors approved resolution to condemn negro school sites. Resolution requesting to buy the Sunset School site and to apply to State School Construction Authority for a $50,000 loan" (14 May 1962)
- Board recommends that "as in former years, buses be provided to transport negro students to high schools in Harrisonburg and Winchester" (13 August 1962)
- "Bus #27 picks up 8 negro students at Middletown and Stephens City and transports them to Winchester high school at $15/student" (11 March 1963)
The minutes reveal that decisions surrounding education for African Americans, especially as it pertained to spending funds for African American schools or for related African American student or African American teacher expenses, were often done partially, with a limited maximum amount of expenditures that was less than those for Caucasian students or Caucasian teachers, or were continually deferred by committee studies and noncommittal stallings as if they were hoping the African American community would leave the county so that they would no longer need to consider such decisions.
And yet, Shenandoah County had a clear interest in literacy education for its Caucasian illiterate adults. An interesting article in the Strasburg News holds the following bolded headline, "Friends of Adult Persons Who Cannot Read or Write Asked to Communicate with Supt. Office," and shares the illiteracy rates in 1930 for Virginia counties. Shenandoah County, considered to be part of the Valley region, is noted as having 525 "Illiterate Native White" persons out of the region's 13,940 people labeled as "illiterate native white" and which the paper indicates as a "3.3 percentage." In reality, it is actually 3.8 percent - a number tied with Frederick and Roanoke (Strasburg News, Volume 49, Number 41, 14 October 1931, p.1). Not realizing the error, the editors state: "These figures indicate Shenandoah as the lowest in the Valley group of counties. This is cause for a reasonable feeling of pride in Shenandoah white only but one must consider that Shenandoah has very few negroes and only a very small number of illiterate among these;" and they continue by giving "the average for negroes in the State in 1930 (as) 7.4%," until conceding that "it has been difficult to get the names of the 525 illiterates of Shenandoah County. If illiterates who desire instruction will give us their names and addresses we shall be able to make up a list for the county. If we can get enough of these persons to one central point in the community we can organize a class. Several of the teachers have already offered their services for this kind of work. The cost of textbooks is not very high" (Strasburg News, Volume 49, Number 41, 14 October 1931, p.1, 6). So, while the school board limited costs for African American students and pushed them out of the county for secondary school, according to school board minutes, the superintendent actively promoted unhampered and in-county education not only for Caucasian youth, but also for illiterate Caucasian adults throughout Shenandoah County.
Despite efforts and compulsory education laws that began in some form as early as 1870, not everyone in the community received an education. A 1939 article shares the following overview regarding Virginia's youth in relation to school attendance: "In spite of a high migration record and a declining birthrate, there are today 100,000 white children and 50,000 Negro children, 7 to 19 years of age, in Virginia who are not in any kind of a school. Teachers' salaries are notoriously low in our public schools, and school facilities and opportunities are substandard in many of our localities" (Northern Virginia Daily, Volume 57, Number 60, 11 March 1939 p 5). As was noticed in 1930, more school boards were consolidating to address the "meager physical facilities" issue (Strasburg News, Volume 48, Number 46, 14 November 1930, p4) and the state legislature was working to make sure funding was available for at least eight-month terms for children in public schools, with the hope of expanding to nine-months of education (Radford News Journal, Volume 8, Number 22, 19 December 1935, p3).
During this time of consolidation and conversation surrounding illiteracy and attendance, another court case brought attention to the 1896 "separate, but equal" clause of Plessy v. Ferguson (see Week 43: Where's the 'Common Sense Consideration'?), and related to professional education after secondary schools in Missouri for African Americans: Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938). In 1935, Lloyd Gaines, an African American graduate from the traditionally African American Lincoln University, was denied admission to the University of Missouri's graduate school, because the institution did not have a counterpart graduate law school for African Americans. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the University either had to admit Gaines or provide him with comparable education within the state. Shenandoah County newspapers share: "At the present time, negroes desirous of pursuing professional studies are aided financially by the state in out-of-Virginia institutions, but the Supreme Court held in the Missouri case that this did not comply with the 'equal facilities' provision of education. Officials viewed as unlikely that negroes would be permitted to attend classes in such state supported schools as the University of Virginia. It was recalled that the state constitution specifies that white and negro education be segregated" (Northern Virginia Daily, Volume 56, Number 291, 14 December 1938, p1). The article continues with: "A member of the State Board of Education said the court ruling could well be applied to Virginia education 'right down the line.' Such an application of the ruling would affect elementary and secondary schools, salaries of negro teachers and physical properties in proportion to the number of negroes of school age as well as the college problem."
The country was grumbling for a larger conversation regarding public education for African Americans in the United States of America, and as we will see in the coming weeks, Virginia and even Shenandoah County communities and leaders were entering this conversation with massive resistance.
The nation's "No. 1 Economic Problem" in 1938 was stated to be the South. To address this issue, President Roosevelt's administration created the Southern Conference for Human Welfare (SCHW) as part of its New Deal efforts. It's first session, as reported by the Charlottesville Progress and republished in the Northern Virginia Daily, happened in Birmingham with "a wrangle over endorsement of Federal anti-lynching legislation and condemnation of laws segregating whites and Negroes in Southern cities" and passing "resolutions asking freight rate parity for the South, urging elimination of poll taxes, seeking public defenders for indignation of poll taxes (and) indignets in court, ... and seeking uniform registration requirements for voters" (Vol 56, No. 279, 30 November 1938, p.4).
Lynching, a practice of killing an individual outside of legal proceedings and often due to misplaced anger or biased beliefs of wrongdoing even when there is no definitive evidence of such, is an extremely important topic. In a majority of cases, persons conducting such crimes were never sentenced. Racial terror was one of the goals of the KKK, as they promoted white supremacy in the South; thus, lynching is often associated with this hate group; however, they did not always occur by the Ku Klux Klan. From the 1880s to 1970, approximately 4,750 lynchings occured in the United States - for more information, read History of Lynching in America. At present no known cases of lynching occurred in Shenandoah County, although they did happen in surrounding counties. As such, and for the purposes of focusing on county-relevant topics, I'm not addressing lynching in this series of letters. That said, as we have already seen in many previous posts, violence, intimidation, and animosity were often employed in Shenandoah County, Virginia, against African Americans, even if not always reported (see especially, Week 31: Rachel, Lashed to Death, Week 33: Bitter Prejudice, Week 34: Need for Radical Change, Week 35: Community, Week 36: Are We Compassionate?, Week 37: Prejudicial to our Race, Week 41: Self-Preservation). Today's post focuses on poll taxes and segregation, particularly as they impacted a cycle of reaffirming racial inequality and privileging Confederate history in our public spaces.
In Shenandoah County, Virginia, the Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser from 1903 explained the voting registration process at that time: "Any one can register who is a veteran, or a son of a veteran, or who last year paid a State property tax of $1, or is 'able to read any section of the Constitution submitted to him by the officers of registration and to give a reasonable explanation of the same; or, if unable to read such section, able to understand and give a reasonable explanation thereof when read to him by the officers... the questions put under the understanding clause were extremely reasonable, and were readily answered by men of ordinary intelligence... Beginning with 1904, it will be requisite that he who offers for registration shall have paid the poll tax assessed against him for the three years preceding the election, and this payment must be made six months prior to the election" (Vol 10, No 46, 3 September 1903, p. 2). The April 28, 1911 issue of Shenandoah Herald notes: "In order to vote at the... November election the poll tax must be paid on or before Saturday, May 6" (Vol 94, No 17, 28 April 1911, p.2). In 1903, the poll tax was $1.50, which would be the same worth as approximately $52 in 2023 - with one dollar going to the public schools and fifty cents to the locality on every capitation tax paid. "Delinquency in making poll tax payments constitutes a misdemeanor," according to a 1939 issue of the Northern Virginia Daily; and, "section 128 of the state tax code... requires payment of the poll tax as a prerequisite to obtaining any state or local license, permit or authorization except a marriage license" (Vol. 57, No. 55, 6 March 1939, p. 1). Poll taxes and literacy tests were two methods used to disenfranchise and weed out voters who were poorer citizens, a large majority of whom were African American at the time. The poll tax was not abolished for use as a precondition to voting in federal elections until the passage of the 24th Amendment in 1964, and until 1966, after the Supreme Court case Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections found poll taxes to be unconstitutional in state elections, as well.
One aspect of the poll tax often overlooked is that Confederate soldiers in Virginia were not required to pay it. By section 22 of the Constitution all soldiers who served in the war between the States are exempted from the payment of any poll tax as a pre-requisite to the right to vote" (Strasburg News, No 52, 15 May 1903, p. 1). A constitutional amendment adopted by the general assembly of Virginia also permitted "Confederate widows to vote without paying a poll tax" (Strasburg News, Vol. 44, No 22, 18 March 1926, p.1).
This isn't the only time Confederate soldiers were favored in state or county decisions. "At a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors held in the court house on Wednesday, May 11, 1921... by unanimous consent it is hereby ordered that the Shenandoah Camp of Confederate Veterans be permitted to hold their meetings in the jury room in the Court House. The Shenandoah Camp realizing that this Association will soon be dissolved by the death of the members, passed a resolution requesting the Board of Supervisors to care for and to pass on to future generations the valuable records in their possession, when the Camp shall cease to exist. RESOLVED: That we, the representatives of the County, accept this trust" (Supervisor Minutes 1920-39, p.25-26). In 1926, Confederate pension checks represented "a total of $248,841.25, the greatest quarterly payment of Confederate pensions ever made in the history of the state" of Virginia (Strasburg News, Vol. 44, No 46, 10 June 1926, p.1). In addition, "out of the total $1,000,000 per year appropriated for Confederate pensions... $11,000 shall be expended for relief of needy Confederate women, who are not on the state pension roster, and who are not inmates of any Confederate, independent or church home or charitable institution." Then, on August 12, 1935, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors "ordered to appropriate the sum of $50.00 for each Confederate Veteran that intends to attend the Confederate Veteran Reunion to be held in Texas, Sept. 3 to Sept. 6, 1935" (Supervisor Minutes 1920-39, p.438).
On top of the excessive funds given to aid Confederate veterans and their widows - which far outweighed anything Reconstruction efforts did to help formerly enslaved African American families that were comparatively neglected - memorial associations popped up across the South to honor aging Confederate veterans and burial grounds for soldiers. "The Ladies' Memorial Association of Mount Jackson, Shenandoah county, Va., has issued the following address: Our Soldiers' Cemetery near Mount Jackson... is the final resting place of nearly 500 soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia. Their prowess is known, because they followed the plumes of Beauregard, Johnston, Longstreet, Rhodes, Ashby, Gordon, Hill, Stewart, Ewell, Hampton, Jackson, Lee. The government to which they gave their allegiance, which they loved so loyally and so grandly defended, is no more, and the Confederate flag is furled forever... The Southern Confederacy and the causes which produced it went down with the remnant of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, and henceforth lives only as a memory. Veterans, brave men of both armies, are reunited in one great American brotherhood, one citizenship, vieing with each other in the pursuits of peace and the promotion of the welfare of our reunited country - a union sealed with the blood of the best of both armies. To these survivors, Grand Army Posts, Confederate veterans, the Order of United Confederate Veterans, and a magnanimous and generous people, we appeal for liberal assistance in behalf of the Ladies' Memorial Association... Aided by, and dependent upon, the contributions of friends, North and South, they undertake the erection of a suitable granite memorial to perpetuate the memory of brave men who vouched for their country with their lives" (Our Church Paper, Vol. 23, No. 20, 15 May 1895, published in New Market, Va, p.4). Another name for this group was the Ladies' Memorial Society of the Lost Cause (Our Church Paper, Vol. 26, No 34, 24 August 1898).
After a decade, the fruition of their fundraising was revealed: "Thursday, June 4, 1903, a handsome monument, surmounted by a figure of a Confederate soldier, was unveiled at Mt. Jackson, Shenandoah county, Va., under the auspices of the Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, No. 133, of that place. The following is a list of the 350 Confederate soldiers - except the 112 unknown - buried in 'Our Soldiers Cemetery' at Mt Jackson, who, with possibly a very few exceptions, died at the hospital in that place from 1861 to 1865" (Our Church Paper, Volume 31, No. 23, 10 June 1903, p.4). The article continues, sharing the names of 43 men from Virginia, 82 men from North Carolina, 33 men from Alabama, 48 men from Georgia, and 19 men from South Carolina, as well as several from Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Tennessee, and other unidentified states. The News Leader provides the following account: "The unveiling of the Confederate monument at Mount Jackson this morning at 11 o'clock attracted a large crowd, which came from all parts of the Valley of Virginia and adjoining counties. The monument was erected to 'All Confederate Soldiers' by the ladies of the Mt Jackson Chapter, Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Ladies' Memorial Society. The money was raised after ten years' work on the part of these noble women. In 1893 the first subscription was taken for this purpose. The sum was gradually increased until $1,500 was raised, and the contract for the memorial made. The monument is located in 'Our Soldiers' cemetery' one mile north of Mt. Jackson, and on the west side of the Valley turnpike. It faces the highway. Our Soldiers' cemetery contains the graves of about 350 Confederate dead" (Vol 4, No 218, 4 June 1903, p.10). The Department of Historic Resources erected a highway marker (A-65) in 1997. According to the marker, the cemetery was originally dedicated on May 10, 1866, on the third anniversary of Stonewall Jackson's death and constituted one of the first Confederate memorial services in the South. The burial grounds had served a Confederate hospital, which consisted of three two-story buildings, established on September 15, 1861. In 1865, the hospital was torn down; federal forces erected a village on Rude's Hill that was used during Reconstruction. Those buildings were subsequently removed in 1875. It's important to note that throughout this time period, an African American burial ground was located across the railroad tracks, directly west of the Confederate cemetery. One hundred and thirty-eight years after the dedication of the Confederate cemetery, the Mt Jackson Colored Cemeteryreceived a memorial marker due to the efforts of African American citizens, a Boy Scout troop from another county, and the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project, a local non-profit committed to promoting the history of African Americans in the Shenandoah Valley.
The point is that Virginia laws and county practices were consistently privileging Confederate soldiers, while ignoring burial grounds and memorials for formerly enslaved African Americans and not providing the same benefits for what they experienced as a result of the hardships our community inflicted upon them. On top of this, segregation was consistently pushed in our community. While the contention was that separate was equal, it really wasn't. For example, in 1938, white teachers were paid an annual salary of $617, "and $394 for Negro teachers" (Northern Virginia Daily, Volume 56, Number 220, 21 September 1938 p 4). Such inconsistencies pervaded our social and economic standards.
In an article from the 1939 Northern Virginia Daily, a representative of the U.S. Department of Labor shared at an annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that "the 'determining characteristics of the race problem' have always been 'economic in origin'... (and that) racial animosity... has been caused by the feeling that the Negro may become 'a dangerous competitor' for the white man's job" (Volume 57, Number 154, 29 June 1939, p1). The article concludes: "the Negro can be just as efficient as the white worker and that there can be no justification in the long run for the argument that the Negro should be paid less because he is less efficient." Shenandoah Stories also shares an example of this at Liberty Furnace, where a mob attacked owners of the furnace and African American workers in January 1880. The only way the riot would end was with the owners' promise to only hire white workers. Thus, the economic problem was one of segregating equality. Of setting standards that didn't provide equitable outcomes for all citizens, usually according to race distinctions.
After World War II, a collaboration committee consisting of 33 white and 33 African American leaders from southern states met to analyze the principal issues related to race relations. Their report stated, "The war has sharpened the issue of negro-white relations in the United States, and particularly in the south... A result has been increased racial tensions, fears and aggressions, and an opening up of the basic questions of racial segregation and discrimination, negro minority rights, and democratic freedom, as they apply practically in negro-white relations in the south" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 61, No 183, 29 June 1943, p.1) This report had been shared six months earlier, too, with the warning that "these issues... have become acute and threaten to become more so as they increasingly block a 'common sense consideration' for improvement in the Negro's status" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 60, No 296, 15 December 1942, p.4).
"The Negro's situation admittedly is difficult and unpleasant," the article shared, "and in many cases he is the victim of gross injustice. There is always a race problem where two widely different races, such as the Negro and Caucasian races, live together and mingle daily in the same country. This problem has never been satisfactorily solved. Racial prejudices and antagonisms are hard to control, and will manifest themselves in many ways, despite the efforts of well-intentioned leaders in both races to keep them down. The root of the problem does not lie with the cultured Negroes... nor with the cultured white people. These could get along together somehow. It is the rough, uncultured, arrogant element in both races that make the problem.
"But the problem is there, and it is a difficult problem to deal with. It cannot be solved by passing laws. It cannot be solved by any sort of coercion. It lies deeper than the surface of things. The nearest approach to a solution is the one that has been followed almost instinctively - that of segregation. This is not an expedient to humiliate the Negro or to exalt the white race. It is a simple recognition of the fact that where the coalescence of two races seems impossible, segregation offers the best means of preserving harmonious relations. Yet segregation lies at the root of most of the 'issues' outlined in the statement referred to above. If segregation were abolished, the race problem would be more than acute. It would be critical" (Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 60, No 296, 15 December 1942, p.4).
Such gatherings were not new to the United States. A Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC) had been founded in Atlanta, Georgia, and in collaboration with other Southern states, in 1919. It grew out of efforts to lessen racial tensions from various organizations, including the Atlanta Christian Council and the YMCA War Work Council. In 1944, the CIC merged with the Southern Regional Council "to oppose lynching, mob violence, and peonage and to educate white southerners concerning the worst aspects of racial abuse" (Pullen, A.E, "Commission on Interracial Cooperation" in New Georgia Encyclopiedia, 2021). Unfortunately, the CIC did not address segregation, but worked to appease African Americans by providing race-specific schools and other ways of co-existing, separately, in order to prevent adverse outcomes, like race riots. One of the key leaders of this organization was Harry Byrd Sr, who was a Winchester native and Virginia's governor from 1926-1930 and a state senator from 1933-1965. Due to his preferential position on racial segregation, Byrd supported poll taxes and literacy tests throughout our state, which limited votes from minority groups, especially African Americans, and poor whites. And as we will see in the coming weeks, the Byrd administration led a Massive Resistance campaign to oppose the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education.
Perusing state records, newspapers, and county minute books, "the race problem" was a consistent presence either by promoting decisions that privileged the perspective of wealthier Caucasian citizens and landowners, largely because our leaders were predominantly wealthier Caucasian landowners, or in upholding the purported solution to the race problem in Virginia's eyes: segregation. To my knowledge, neither the Board of Supervisors nor the School Board for Shenandoah County, Va, has ever had an African American appointed to its leadership positions - an important thing to consider when we discuss how to promote equality in our communities. Without representative leadership, "common sense consideration" isn't going to happen, unless leaders commit to inclusivity. In an article from 2020, "The Key to Inclusive Leadership," Harvard Business Review shares six signature traits for this:
- "Visible commitment: They articulate authentic commitment to diversity, challenge the status quo, hold others accountable, and make diversity and inclusion a personal priority...
- "Humility: They are modest about capabilities, admit mistakes, and create the space for others to contribute...
- "Awareness of bias: They show awareness of personal blind spots, as well as flaws in the system, and work hard to ensure a meritocracy...
- "Curiosity about others: They demonstrate an open mindset and deep curiosity about others, listen without judgment, and seek with empathy to understand those around them...
- "Cultural intelligence: They are attentive to others' cultures and adapt as required..." and,
- "Effective collaboration: They empower others, pay attention to diversity of thinking and psychological safety, and focus on team cohesion" (Bourke & Titus, 2020).
These traits were very much missing among many of the leaders in our community in the 19th and early 20th centuries; hence: segregation.
To understand the issue of segregation, we have to consider one of the most widely known court decisions up to that time period in making decisions on segregated public educational principles - and it wasn't even in relation to education. Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U.S. 537, 18 May 1896) was a Supreme Court decision with the renowned outcome of "separate but equal" facilities for the two races. On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy, who was a man of mixed race defined in American 19th century society as an octoroon or being 7/8 white, had intentionally boarded a New Orleans, Louisiana, train car designated as whites-only and destined for Covington. According to the state legislature, this violated their 1890 Separate Car Act; thus Plessy was arrested. Plessy believed the separate train cars were unconstitutional and violated his 14th Amendment rights as a U.S. citizen. The Supreme Court upheld the ruling against Plessy and in favor of the judge that presided over the case, John Ferguson. Even in Virginia, the law surrounding racial segregation on motor buses made it "a misdemeanor when any person 'fails to occupy the seat assigned to him by the driver, pursuant to any lawful rule, regulation or custom in force by such lines as to the assignment of separate seats to white and colored persons' "(Northern Virginia Daily, Vol 64, No 132, 4 June 1946, p.1). Into the 20th century, Plessy v. Ferguson laid the framework for segregation in all sectors of public spaces, including schools, bathrooms, water fountains, and even setting a precedence for separating times of the day for appointments or vaccinations, separate newspaper sections highlighting "Colored News," parts of a neighborhood in which African Americans could live, entrances and seating areas in theaters or churches or places of business, who didn't always allow African Americans to enter their businesses or even stand in front of them, as was the case in Mt Jackson from time to time.
Social sensitivities in Virginia favored segregation in the public schools, too. A 1930 article, "The South's Problem," in the Strasburg News reviews the impact of a school law that once incorporated the definition of Negro as "any person who has one-sixteenth Negro blood" (Vol. 48, No 5, 31 January 1930, p.2). "The announcement that Negroes and white children are attending the same school, playing the same games together, sitting in the same room and frequently sharing the same desk in Essex county has been variously characterized as 'tragic,' 'deplorable,' and 'shocking' ... begins the article, which continues: "far more deplorable than the fact that black and white pupils attend the same school together is the fact that in one of the schools visited... 'only one person would have impressed the casual observer as unquestionably Negroid' .... the problem of the South is one of keeping the black race black.... In justice to each race, a law should be enacted which will effect segregation complete and absolute" (Vol. 48, No 5, 31 January 1930, p.2).
As we have already seen in a previous post (Week 42: Education Without Heart), there were separate primary schools for the two races in Shenandoah County, Va at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Shenandoah County School Board minutes, housed in the Shenandoah County Public Schools' Central Office, begin in the 1930s with a more county-focused school board presence. With calls from the community for larger facilities, smaller one-roomed schoolhouses were no longer an adequate way to provide educational services to the children in our communities. The Shenandoah County Historical Society and Shenandoah Stories through our public library system share several perspectives that can elucidate more on the history of public educational facilities and provisions; my focus is on the impact of our communities' decisions on African American and minority groups, especially as they relate to public education. Over the next few weeks, we will examine the Shenandoah County School Board minutes and the state of Virginia's Pupil Placement Board records that capitulate some of this multifaceted impact.
Bernard DeVoto, an early 20th century American professor and writer, held the following view: "Democracy is not a word. It is your home town, the people who live there, their habits and associations, their decencies and beliefs and kindliness and courage and resolution." If we pause and really consider how to make the best decisions not for blacks, not for whites, but for Americans, what would we name our towns, our roads, our schools - all the public spaces that we share, today? We are not making decisions for someone that lived 150 years ago, but for the human beings that make up the living heartbeat of our communities today. We are making decisions for people that live and work, here and now - those who celebrate birthdays and mourn the deaths of close family and friends - all of whom are Americans. How do we find commonality if it is not in the public spaces we share? The names of public schools should not hold subliminal or overt messages of hatred, superiority, fear, ignorant pride, or arrogant defiance. The names of public schools should hold DeVito's image of democracy; and in America, that cannot be done with the names of Confederate leaders, who renounced their claim to democracy and led our communities into a fight for a segregated reality that no longer exists and for the exploitation of people of another race for economic gain.
During this same time period that citizens of Shenandoah County, Va, were privileging the perspective of its white populace, its leaders were making decisions on behalf of minority groups, and even for women, without their input.
In the upper part of Powell's Fort, or Fort Valley, Honey Run School House ran a Lyceum for young men in the neighborhood. A brief notice in the local paper poses, "The question discussed on Saturday night last, was: Should female education be as thorough as that of males? Discussed and decided in the negative" (Shenandoah Herald, Volume 5, Number 37, 19 May 1870 p3).
Each district (see Week 39: The Mask of Defiance for more about the division of Shenandoah County into regions) had a school census enumerator. "These gentlemen will... ascertain the number of children of school age in each district so that correct apportionments of school funds may be made" (Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, Volume 7, Number 34, 7 June 1900, p3). At the time, these funds largely came from state taxes and beneficiaries in the community. The Sentinel also shares a discussion on how those funds should be apportioned, relaying that "many of the most prominent men in the commonwealth favor... restricting the negroes only to the tax paid by their race in apportioning the school funds of the State" (Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, Volume 7, Number 46, 30 August 1900 p2).
An earlier issue of the local paper shared the cost of schools, as well as information regarding who were paying more for these local schools, in general. "A State official has been collecting some interesting statistics, showing the cost of public schools in Virginia since the inauguration of the system in 1870, with particular reference to the relative amounts paid by whites and blacks for their support. The total cost of the Virginia public schools from 1870 to 1899, inclusive, has been $36,919,186. The white schools cost $25,843,430.20. The negro schools cost $11,075,755.80. Of this the whites paid for their white schools... (and) were taxed for negro schools, $9,192,877.32. The negroes have contributed only $1,882,878.48. The total amount paid by the whites for schools is $35,036,307.52" (Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, Volume 7, Number 42, 2 August 1900 p1). According to this paper, 70% of the school funds went to support white schools. And yet, in Ashby district of Shenandoah County, Va, 95% of the schools were for white children. A newspaper notice from 1871 states "The School census of Ashby Township has been returned by the clerk of the Board of Trustees. There are between the ages of five and twenty one years, 779 whites and 64 colored" (Shenandoah Herald, Vo 51, No 17, 2 February 1871 p3). During the first year of public education, 7% of the students in one of the districts that would eventually come together to form our southern campus schools were African American. The previous article also points out what isn't being discussed: African Americans did not have the wealth that white families had. They, too, were taxed, but without the same access to competent income and property ownership, their tax portion was massively smaller than their white neighbors. The problem wasn't that African Americans weren't paying their taxes or working hard enough for what they had. The problem was lack of representation in community leadership positions, lack of equal opportunities and equal pay, and lack of inclusion as neighbors. They were still treated as a separate, nearly invisible, inferior social class.
In 1901, then Superintendent McInturff shared the appointment of teachers employed in each district. There were 127 total, "of these 123 are white. Lee, Ashby, Davis, and Woodstock each has one negro school" (Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, Volume 9, Number 8, 12 December 1901, p2). Since each district had its own school board then, decisions about school construction and maintenance, teacher hiring and training, and more were made in conjunction with the school authorities. Each board met periodically, with major decisions and teaching assignments often posted in the local papers. For example, "the teachers of the Public Free Schools of Ashby District were assigned as follows at the meetings of the School Board held at Mt. Jackson May 25th and at Conicville September 24th, 1900" (Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, Volume 7, Number 50, 27 September 1900 p2). The article continues with twenty-one schools listed, as well as the principal for the graded schools and head teacher (for more information on the schools, review Week 40: Free Public Schools). The Mt Jackson colored school is "not definitely appointed" according the article.
Teachers often met in district-wide leagues to run professional development trainings, discuss current teaching methods, and more. The Stonewall League of teachers met in New Hope school-house at Jadwyn on the first Saturday in December 1900. "The subjects were: How to teach Fry's Geography, U.S. History in the common schools, Diacritical marks and Spelling in connection with the 'Word Method' of teaching Reading.... clerk of the Stonewall Board of School Trustees also furnished an excellent subject for 'discussion' - an abundance of nice cake and good lemonade which he brought into the school-room for the teachers present. A worthy example - 'Go and do thou likewise.' Stonewall still stands!" (Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, Volume 8, Number 8, 6 December 1900 p2).
Even in the 1900s, Stonewall, Ashby, and Lee were soaked into the fabric of our community like growing stains. No one questioned whether or not this was morally good or whether it cultivated a sense of peace among whites and blacks. They just accepted it. And as we saw last week, that acceptance led to more harmful examples in the community by 1925 (see Week 41: Self-Preservation), when the KKK held a Klan day at the county fair to celebrate white supremacy and to initiate some of our own into a cult that doesn't deserve shrines. Ignoring these conversations, privileging one set of ancestors over another's even if they are a majority, harms everyone.
Aristotle wrote, "Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." A sentiment that was shared by Dalai Lama: "When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts" and by Martin Luther King, Jr: "Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." Even Jesus shares a similar teaching: "it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth... what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts..." (Matthew 15:11, 18-19). Invoking the names of Stonewall, Ashby, Lee, and other Confederate generals, no matter what their religious beliefs, in our community in the 21st century, after the historical asperity of minority groups within the same community is not honorable, but oppressive. Elementary through high school should be an experience of levity, joy, and peace. Claiming names of people that fought even to death for the principle of African American inferiority and control is not innocent, joy-filled, or peaceful. It is education without heart.
An 1870 issue of Shenandoah Herald holds the firsthand experience of an African American cadet attending West Point - an institute where Thomas Jackson had received a military education almost three decades earlier: "I have been so harassed with... the insults and ill-treatment of these cadets that I could not write or do any thing else scarcely. I passed examination all right and got in... now these fellows appear to be trying their utmost to run me off... We went into camp yesterday, and not a moment has passed since then but some one of them has been cursing me. All night they were around my tent, cursing and swearing at me so that I did not sleep two hours all night. It is just the same thing at the table, and what I get to eat I must snatch for like a dog. I don't wish to resign if I can get along at all; but I don't think it will be best for me to stay and take all the abuses and the insults that are heaped upon me... One of the cadets refused to drill the squad because I was in it... After marching us out to the drill ground this morning he said to me, 'Stand off one side from the line, you d--d black son of a b--h. You are too near that white man. I want you to remember you are not on an equal footing with the white men in your class, and what you learn here you will have to pick up, for I won't teach you a d--d thing.' ... And I could say nothing at all, or I would have been locked up for disobedience of orders to 'superior officers.' ... If I complain to the commandment I must prove the charges or nothing can be done; and where am I to find one from so many to testify in my behalf? ... I have borne insult upon insult until I am completely worn out... I forgot to tell you that out of ninety-one appointees, five failed physically, forty-seven failed mentally, leaving thirty-nine admitted. They had prepared it to fix the colored candidates, but it proved most disastrous to the whites" (14 July 1870, Vol 50, No 45, p2).
The sentiments of this firsthand perspective are captured in Shenandoah County, too, through the treatment of its citizens. Newspapers and county minutes and documents clearly delineate terms such as "colored" or "negro" whenever referring to an African American for over a century after the Civil War. In most cases none of the white citizens are similarly denoted as "white" and, in the newspapers particularly, are nearly always named with an accompanying title of respect, such as Mr. or Mrs. - a courtesy generally removed from African American citizens. One exception to this in the supervisor's minutes is from 1868 when "a free white farmer and not an enemy, but an alien subject of Great Britain, appeared in court and on oath stated that he has resided in this county for ten years and inclined to continue to reside therein, this declaration is made to enable him to hold real estate" (1868:301).
Shenandoah County court cases for African Americans are nearly always recorded in minutes following the day's cases for white citizens in the century between the Civil War and Civil Rights. And, while lashing was not just used against African Americans for punishment in minor crimes, a district court case against an African American for allegedly stealing a bridle-bit clearly states the racist use of lashing in the court system: he "graciously submitted to the old-time punishment so familiar to that race - ten lashes with orders to return after the lapse of ten days and receive tenmore, which, of course, he will do" (Winchester News, Vol 13, No 29, 18 January 1878, p3). Another case noted in the Shenandoah Herald states: "A negro in Winchester, for stealing chickens, was sentenced to receive twenty lashes, to work in the chain gang for sixty days and to pay the cost of the prosecution." The editors continue this notice by calling out the African Americans in our very community: "We have several in this town who are waiting for an opportunity to exemplify their physical endurance under similar punishment" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol 55, No 20, 11 March 1875, p3). "In New Market, Shenandoah County, on the 25th... Martha Minor, colored, was arrested, tried, and ordered to receive 25 lashes for stealing some articles belonging to ... others" (Shenandoah Herald, Volume 56, Number 40, 3 August 1876 p3). Another judge declared that "negroes and whites are not equals under the laws of the United States; that either a white man is not the peer of a negro or a negro is not the peer of a white man, and the very law intended to abolish all the race distinctions is made the means of perpetuating them" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol 59, No 10, 11 December 1878, p2).
This inequality of justice is also present in the depiction of an inequality of character. Many of our community's leaders mocked and belittled an entire race of people at a time when they should have been focusing on providing quality education and compassion. While we've read about these similar situations in nearly every single letter before, I want to especially draw your attention to Week 32: Fear of 'Negro Equality' and Week 37: Prejudicial to our Race, which hold similar sentiments of indifference by our community and even hatred toward American citizens with African ancestry. Sometimes this shows up in Aesop's fable-styled witticisms. The Shenandoah Herald shares two examples: "We have three candidates all on the same side of the re-adjustment question... Their discussions are somewhat like the negro's dispute with his master. He said, 'Ole massa and me sputed about an hour.' What about? 'Why massa, he said squashes growed best in damp ground and I said so too.' " (Vol 58, No 45, 14 August 1878 , p2) and "A young negro boot-black observed a neighbor poring wisely over a newspaper, whereupon he addressed him thus: 'Julius, what are you looking at dat paper fer? You can't read.' 'Go away,' cried the other indignantly; 'guess I can read; I's big enough for dat.' 'Big enuff.' retorted the other scornfully, 'dat ain't nuffin. A cow's big enuff to catch mice, but she can't.' " (Vol 59, No 12, 25 December 1878, p1). And other times, this insinuates the ignorance, not of individuals, but of an entire race through events of the time. One example is related to the Census Bureau of 1900: "The Bureau has had considerable trouble, particularly in the South, among the negroes, in ascertaining how the farms were being worked. In many cases the negroes did not know whether they were paying a fixed money rent or a share of the crops" (Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, Volume 7, Number 48, 13 September 1900, p2). Another example relates to reactions to a natural phenomena: "The eclipse was attended by fatal results... From all parts of Virginia come reports of negroes terrified by the strangeness and to them miraculous nature of the spectacle. In some localities prayer and praise meetings were held, and in others dumb, frantic terror led the more ignorant to throw down their tools and flee, they knew not whither" (Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, Volume 7, Number 33, 31 May 1900, p2).
Another noted feature of various local issues of newspapers needs mentioning when considering our community's view of African Americans and that is related to the Ku Klux Klan. The editors of the April 16, 1868 issue of Shenandoah Herald write: "The whole country seems to be in great excitement. The press, all over the country, are discussing the same mysterious personage, or demon, as some suppose; and military commanders forbid, under penalty, the press from publishing anything in relation to the matter, and, on the other hand, le grand diable, or what ever it may be, hands in the mysterious manuscript with positive injunctions to publish. Negroes and carpet-bagmen whistle to keep up their courage... The old nursery storys and legendary lore... are all recalled by the wonderful feats and mysterious doings of the wonderful and mysterious Ku-klux. We have seen some very satisfactory and intelligent articles in some of our exchanges in regard to the object, &c., of this organization, and feel satisfied that, whether this mysterious personage has been seen or not, yet, we believe the Klan is preparing to march... The following effusion found on our table, from some poetic brother of the mystic circle, we insert, as requested, without comment" (Vol. 3, No. 25, p.3). A poem, entitled Night of Terror continues, including the lines "The Klan is marching; on their banner a skull; / The storm is brewing that never will lull," and is submitted by a member of the Valley Klan. According to the June through November 1871 issues of Shenandoah Herald, a Woodstock merchant was selling Ku Klux hats.
A resurgence of interest in the Ku Klux Klan appeared in local papers with the film, Birth of a Nation. During a showing in Richmond, Va, forty-two klan members were present for the film's final showing at Academy of Music. "There was a sudden silence throughout the theatre when, shortly before the beginning of the performance, the white-robed figures suddenly appeared... Then came a burst of applause. There followed the lowering of the lights and the beginning of the picture in which the most thrilling scenes depict the Ku Klux Klan in reconstruction days in the South coming to the rescue of the oppressed white people" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol. 105, No. 7, 17 February 1922, p.2). Two months later, the same paper reads: "A chapter of the Ku Klux Klan has been organized in Harrisonburg, according to a statement last night of a field representative of the Klan, who has been working in Harrisonburg since an address by Dr. J. H. Hawkins, of Norfolk here March 28, in the interests of the klan" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol. 105, No. 15, 14 April 1922, p.2). A year later, "while the Winchester Presbytery was holding its regular meeting... three members of the Ku Klux Klan, wearing the regulation white robes and hoods, entered the Presbyterian Church and walked deliberately from the Sunday school room to the auditorium, presented the local pastor with an envelope. They said nothing and departed as quietly as they entered. A press dispatch stated the Rev. was more than delighted with the contents of the beautifully written letters, because of the sentiment it expressed and also because the envelope contained $50 for his own personal use" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol. 106, No 16, 20 April 1923, p.2).
Closest to home is a listing in the local advertisements of the September 26, 1924 newspaper: "The Ku Klux Klan will hold an open meeting in the Court House on Tuesday Night, September 30th. The Public is cordially invited to be present and hear the principles of this organization outlined by prominent speakers. Before the meeting at the Court House, the Klan will hold a parade through the town, and will attempt to portray the working of the order. Watch for the banners" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol. 107, No. 39, p.3). Not even a year later, fields away from where the current southern campus schools will be built almost a quarter of a century later, the Valley Klan held a major gathering at Shenandoah Caverns on Sunday, June 14, 1925. "Not only will the Valley Klans take part in exercises, religious and secular, which are on the day's program, but it is anticipated that hundreds will attend from nearby states. At 11 o'clock in the morning there will be church services, conducted by one of the leading evangelists in the country, and it is the purpose to make this service both inspiring and helpful. The dinner will be served either picnic style or at the Caverns Hotel, visitors taking their choice. In the afternoon at two, an innovation in Klan ceremonials will be the special program hundreds of feet below the surface, in the Grotto of the Gods. At four, prominent lecturers will set forth the objects and purposes of the Klan. While held under the auspices of the Ku Klux Klan, the day is set apart as National Flag Day, and the invitation to take part in the exercises is extended to everybody. Several brass bands have been secured for the occasion and it promises to be a red-letter day in Valley Klan history" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol 108, No 24, 12 June 1925, p7).
The Ku Klux Klan was created by Confederate veterans at the close of the American Civil War and established as independent chapters across the southern US states. Their purpose was to continue the mission of the Confederacy in promoting white supremacy through the intimidation of African Americans, especially those aiming for political and local leadership. By 1871, the KKK was largely suppressed by the federal government, with a resurgence in 1915, due especially to the release of the silent film The Birth of a Nation. As of July 1925, the organizer of the Valley Ku Klux Klan had moved to Woodstock, Va, which the local newspaper noted as being "nearer the center of his work" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol 108, No 27, 3 July 1925, p.2). The Shenandoah Herald shares the 1925 Shenandoah County Fair information, which includes special days "on Tuesday, the opening day, when school children of the county will be admitted free, and Friday, the last day, when the Ku Klux Klan will play a conspicuous part in the program, with their own hand, addresses and other Klan ceremonies." The article concludes with the lines: "And remember it is YOUR COUNTY FAIR, and it begins next Tuesday, September 8" as well as a detailed program, including "Friday (Klan Day):
Ku Klux Program
4:00 p.m. - Speaking.
5:00 - Klan Kristening.
5:45 - Kitchen Band.
7:00 - Speaking.
7:45 - Joint band concert. K.K.K. Band of Ballston, Va., and K. of P. Band of Woodstock.
8:15 - Free acts.
8:40 - Red fire parade led by K.K.K. Band. K. of P. Band in center of parade.
9:00 - Naturalizations.
9:20 - Double program of fireworks. Association and K.K.K" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol 108, No 36, 4 September 1925, p.1).
As a follow-up to the county-wide exhibition, the September 18, 1925 issue includes the article, "Fair Success in All Ways: Closing Day and Night Without Precedent - Financial Success," in which the details of the evening are shared: "The great Shenandoah County Fair Association closed its 1925 exhibition Friday night in a blaze of glory. This is a trite expression but the whole heavens testified to the success of the big fair when a pyrotechnic display never equalled in the county turned the skies into a veritable blaze of gorgeous coloring made by spitting rockets and exploding bombs. Added to the set pieces was the electrical display put on by the Ku Klux Klan which had charge of much of the evening's entertainment. Crosses were lighted in the track enclosure and thousands looked on the mammoth parade, the christening exercises and initiation by the organization. Several addresses were made and the music was especially fine... The free acts, the best ever seen on the local grounds, delighted the record breaking crowd on Friday and Friday night, as compared with other last days of the fair... The gate receipts for the four days and nights exceeded those of any previous fair and the association, unlike many of the similar associations in Virginia is on firm financial ground. There will be a handsome surplus to apply to any indebtedness which might be outstanding" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol. 108, No 38, 18 September 1925, p.2).
Following the American Civil War, as we have already seen, Shenandoah County, Va, was not a welcoming place for African Americans. But it was actually more than unwelcoming. Shenandoah County, Va, by the 1920s was becoming the beating heart of the regional Ku Klux Klan - promoting a message of white pride that would all too soon stain the very foundations of our educational system. Knowing this history, however repulsive it might feel to remember it, is vital to understanding the reason for the name change. Frays of hatred against African Americans and minorities have been tucked into community decisions, gatherings, and public places for decades. Our community has an obligation to respectfully resign the names of oppression that still linger over our public places and make sure they no longer return to haunt us. Thomas Jefferson noticed the quagmire of slavery, which is also applicable to social prejudice against minority groups that have made their ways into civil laws, when he wrote: "Justice is on one scale and self-preservation in the other" (Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning, 2016:151). It's time to leave the Confederacy in the history books, to let Confederate ancestors rest as peaceably as those ancestors that fought on the side of Great Britain during the American Revolution. Continuing to toy with the return of the names Ashby-Lee and/or Stonewall Jackson to our public schools is an act of injustice and blatant cruelty not just to our African American and minority neighbors, but to our entire community. Self-preservation and justice can go hand-in-hand. But not if self-preservation is only for the white majority.
Last week, I shared about the establishment of six magisterial districts, intentionally named after Confederate leaders, in Shenandoah County, Virginia, in 1870 (Week 39: The Mask of Defiance). In addition to maintaining roads, managing the distribution of funds from state taxes, and eventually establishing a district tax to help with costs for schools and roads, another main purpose of each district was to establish its own volunteer school board, whose members were chosen by an appointed president, and which oversaw the public free school system. The free schools were described in a January 1871 local paper as something that "flourishes under various forms of government, and when once tried, is never abandoned, but on the contrary, is cherished and perfected more and more" (Shenandoah Herald, 12 January 1871, Vol. 51, No. 14, p.1).
The November 24, 1870 issue of the Shenandoah Herald shares the following information on the Public School System: "The State Board of Education are determined that the Public Schools shall be opened at the earliest practical moment. County Superintendents, and District Trustees have been appointed and preparations have been made to open the schools at once. The appropriation from State funds for this county will, it is thought amount to about four thousand dollars, which will be divided among the townships according to the number of children in each. The amount therefore, ranges from five to eight hundred dollars to the township. There being no county or district funds appropriated, the Trustees, to introduce the system with the limited funds in hand, must adopt one of two plans, - either to open from two to four schools in each township, or to call upon the citizens interested in each school to pay a portion of the Teacher's salary, and the trustees agree to pay the balance. By the latter plan many communities would receive the benefit of the State School fund, who otherwise would be deprived of it... The Public School System will employ no teachers who are not prepared to teach Orthography, Reading, Writing, Geography, Grammar and Arithmetic... In towns where Schools of a hundred scholars can be obtained, graded schools will be established, and where graded schools are kept open for ten months and properly supported by the citizens, liberal aid, independent of the State and County funds, may be expected. Several of the towns in this county are making laudable efforts to establish graded schools at once." (24 November 1870, Vol 51, No 8, p.2).
According to an 1898 issue of the Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, the public free schools taught the English language, lasted "eight months, and all children between six and fourteen years of age (were) compelled to attend" (4 February 1898, Vol 5, No 16, p.2). By 1900, the free public school of Shenandoah County was receiving $10,106.06 in State school funds, which increased by $220.41 - a trajectory of 2% - the following year. The Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser states, "this fund goes to the several school districts as follows: Lee, $1,698.98; Ashby, $2,076.37; Madison, $1,680.03; Johnston, $1,140.91; Stonewall, $1,531.42; Davis, $1,713.55; Woodstock, $485.21. The rate of distribution is $1.4571 per capita of school population, the school population of the county being 7,087" (12 December 1901, Vol. 9, No 8, p2). The article mentions textbook purchase was the responsibility of patrons to the schools.
Another 1900 article from the Edinburg Sentinel and Valley Advertiser, gives an idea of the public free school situation in the Ashby District, the largest district at the time, which received 20.5% of the apportioned state funds and had the following exact school listings:
- Mt. Jackson Graded School
- Conicville Graded School
- St. Paul Graded School
- Mt. Clifton Graded School
- Willow Grove
- Orkney Springs
- Pine Church
- Ottobein Chapel
- Pleasant View
- Air Hill
- Hudson's Cross Roads
- Teaberry Point
- Powder Springs
- Morning View
- Mt. Jackson, colored
(27 September 1900, Vol. 7, No. 50, p2). The school names are most often derived from the names of communities or towns, sometimes with an environmental or geological landmark component and other times with the names of community founders or local educators.
While the number of schools opened and maintained by each of the districts changed over the next several decades, one thing remained the same: these schools were segregated, sometimes by gender, but always by race. An 1871 school census of Ashby Township revealed "between the ages of five and twenty one years, 779 whites and 64 colored" (Shenandoah Herald, 2 February 1871, Vol. 51, No. 17, p.3). And the Shenandoah Herald's January 18, 1872 issue highlights a male school, female school, polytechnic institute, female seminary, and a colored public school in New Market. The article also mentions a Wood's School House; another school on Valley Pike, two miles north of New Market; with "attendance at all the schools... quite large and at some... young ladies and young men of from 17 to 20 years of age who are just beginning to read" (18 January 1872, Vol. 52, No. 14, p.3). The article continues by mentioning: Liberty School House, Forestville Male School, Forestville Female School, Flat Rock, Moore's Store, Fansler's School House, Barb's School House, Zirkel's School House, and Kipp's School House; as well as Lee Township having 14 public schools.
Even in 1872, members of our county feared unsegregated schools. An article in Shenandoah Herald reads: "Consider who compose the radical party of Virginia. They are principally Federal office holders, Carpet-baggers, negroes and men who are opposed to the native white population of the State. Are you willing that the State government should pass into the hands of this party? Are you willing that a negro shall fill the office of county judge? Are you willing for your children to be compelled to associate with negro children in school? The radical party in other states have forced mixed schools upon the people. Will they not do it in Virginia, if you permit the State government to fall into their hands? ... Our property as well as our liberties will be in the hands of our most bitter enemies... Let not Virginia be found wanting for the first time, in this great battle for political liberty" (17 October 1872, Vol. 53, No. 1, p.2).
The local paper excerpts the New York Tribune on this issue, as well: "It seems to be decided, at least, that the fourteenth amendment does not provide for every possible conflict of opinion between white and colored people. In considering the education of the children of the two races in the same schools, two Northern courts have recently held that the question belongs to the school board for decision, and not to the amendment of the citizen. Their arguments are that any classification, which preserves substantially equal school advantages is not prohibited by either the State or Federal constitution; that they cannot dictate where and by what teacher his children shall be taught; and that 'equality of rights' does not imply that white and colored children shall be educated in the same school any more than it implies the education of both sexes in the same school" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol. 53, No. 8, 5 December 1872, p. 2).
Thus on the precipice of the 20th century, three decades after the establishment of the public schools system, Shenandoah County, Virginia, is poised to point out several key standards that will meet head-on over the next century: the stereotyped and biased perception of African Americans in the community as an ignorant, substandard class and the role of public schools in promoting true equality. As we will see, both will leave their watermarks on our public schools in the decades to come.
1870 was a tumultuous year for Virginia and for Shenandoah County.
The Board of Supervisor Minutes before 1870, record six magisterial districts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The purpose of these districts was to divide the work of commissioners, overseers, and other appointed citizens with the ability to manage taxes, community matters from roads to the poor, conduct relevant business, including the eventual establishment of public schools, and more.
Then, in large florid script, the minutes come to April 13, 1870. In conjunction with the appointment of registrars for the county after Virginia's full entrance into the Union in January 1870, the first mention of these magisterial districts as townships named after Confederate leaders occurs. Shenandoah County had a new system established: townships, with newspapers noting the inclusion of numerical districts within each township over the next few years. These townships are: Lee, Ashby, Madison, Stonewall, Johnston, and Davis (Minutes 1869-1872, p.126).
After only five years, the Freedmen's Bureau ceased its operations in 1870 and was officially disbanded in 1872. This cessation and Virginia's resentment over five years without full representation in the United States government, as well as the presence of U.S. martial law in southern states, was at the heart of the district name choices.
Tensions between the two races in Virginia had been building for years. In November 1867, a Shenandoah Herald article entitled, "We Can Defeat the Negro Constitution," shares: "The Radical sheets and negro leaders of Virginia, with a reckless disregard for truth, are in the habit of asserting that the recent election for members of a Convention in this State shows a Radical majority of 45,455 votes. Their madness is not without method; the assertion is made for an obvious purpose. They are very eager to impress upon the white people of Virginia that ... it is not worth their while to make any efforts to save the State from negro rule" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol. 3, No. 7, 28 November 1867, p.2). The article continues using phrases like "these negrophilists are guilty" and "their party in the State is a miserable black abortion" to point out that of the 221,754 people that registered to vote in Virginia at that time, the race split was "116,982 whites and 104,772 negroes." The editors point out that this is "a white majority of 12,210 votes" and extrapolate on how that amount can only increase if apathetic white voters register before the next election. "It is a conceded fact that, instead of having increased, the negro population has decreased since 1860. During the war numbers of negroes ran away from the State, and they have been leaving it continually since the war. The decrease too has been mainly among the negro men. We set it down then, at a very low estimate, that there has been a falling off of 5,000 among the negro men of the State since 1860, which... leave(s) the whole number of negroes entitled to be registered under the Reconstruction acts about 107,000. In this calculation no allowance has been made for 'disfranchised niggers' and negro convicts... This estimate is more than confirmed by the reports of the Commissioners of the Revenue of Virginia for 1866, which sum up the whole negro male population of the State, 21 years of age and upwards, considerably less than 100,000... On the other hand, there are 111,982 white Conservatives registered up to this time, and besides there are fully 20,000 white men in Virginia who, altho' entitled to be registered under the Reconstruction acts of Congress, have failed to present themselves before the Boards of Registration at their sittings heretofore. - We can have, therefore, if a proper effort is made, upwards of 130,000 Conservative white registered voters before the election on the adoption of the Constitution takes place. In view of the foregoing facts, how then can any sane man doubt that we have it in our power to defeat the Radical scheme to negroize Virginia. Let every man do his whole duty, and all will be well. In the providence of God, we believe that the day of our deliverance is at hand, and we have reason for the faith that is in us. - This time is rapidly approaching when the 30,000 disfranchised white men of Virginia will be reinvested with their privileges, and the white man's party will be permitted to assert its full strength. When it does come, the old Commonwealth will be thoroughly cleansed of the political vermin that now befoul her, and Conservatism will crush rotten Radicalism to the dust; 'Show its mask off torn, And tramp its bloated head beneath the foot of scorn'" (Shenandoah Herald, Vol. 3, No. 7, 28 November 1867, p.2).
When on January 26, 1870, Virginia's senators and elected officials gained full representation in the United States Congress through an act signed by President Grant, the 1867 article's fear became reality: required inclusion of the African American race in all aspects relative to citizenship. In order for Virginia's admission into the full political life of the Union, the State met several conditions: "First, That the Constitution of Virginia shall never be so amended or changed as to deprive any citizen or class of citizens of the right to vote by the Constitution herein... Second, That it shall never be lawful for the said State to deprive any citizen of the United States, on account of his race, color, or previous condition of servitude, of the right to hold office under the constitution and laws of said State, or upon any such ground to require of him any other qualifications for office than such as are required of all other citizens. Third, That the constitution of Virginia shall never be so amended or changed as to deprive any citizen or class of citizens of the United States of the school rights and privileges secured by the constitution of said State" (George P. Sanger, ed., The Statutes at Large and Proclamations of the United States of America. From December 1869 to March 1871, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1871, 16:63).
With the two houses of Virginia's legislature having passed the Registration Act just days before April 13, 1870, guidelines for the general registration of U.S. citizens was released to the courts. Here is an excerpt:
"3. The Secretary of the Commonwealth shall cause to be prepared suitable books and blanks for the registration of voters, and shall forward them to the clerks of the county and hustings courts of the several counties, cities and towns, to be by them distributed to the registrars of their respective townships, wards and voting places. The books aforesaid shall be so arranged as to admit of the alphabetical classification of those registered, and shall be ruled in parallel columns, in which shall be entered the number, name of vote, the fact that he is sworn, his age, occupation, the place of residence at time of registration, the length of time of his residence in the county, city or town... The list of votes, white and colored, shall be kept and arranged in separate books." (Winchester Times, Vol 5, No 32, 13 April 1870, p.1).
The April 28, 1870 issue of the Shenandoah Herald points out these new registration guidelines in clearer details, especially in terms of Confederate sympathizers: "Many of our citizens are under the impression that as they have registered themselves heretofore, that they are qualified voters now. But it is a mistake - that registration was under Military authority, and the lists mislaid or lost; and the present Registration is under Civil rule, as provided for in the new Constitution, which requires every eligible voter to register anew. No one will be permitted to vote at any election unless he first registers, and no one is excluded from registering and voting for having participated in rebellion" (Vol. 5, No. 34, p. 3).
While the voters ultimately decide the person that will fill a specific leadership role, as we have learned all too well, the Code of Virginia gives authority over names, whether that is of schools or magisterial districts, to the local leaders. In terms of districts: "County magisterial district boundary lines and names shall be as the governing bodies may establish" (§ 15.2-1211.A).
Shenandoah Herald's April 28, 1870 issue also gives an overview of these then new townships, which the appointed commissioners created to divide Shenandoah County:
- Davis Township "corresponds with the district formerly know(n) as Magisterial District No. 1, and is divided into two voting districts, the voting places of which are Strasburg and Lebanon Church."
- Stonewall Township "comprises that portion of Shenandoah County known as Magisterial District No. 2, and is divided into two voting districts, the voting places of which are the Court House and Conner's School house."
- Johnston Township "comprises... Magisterial District No. 3, and is divided into three voting districts, the voting places of which are the 'Town Hall' at Woodstock, Dry Run School house and Manoah Harman's Mill."
- Madison Township "embraces the same district which was formerly known as Magisterial District No. 4, and is divided into two voting districts, the voting places of which are Edinburg and the Church above and near Columbia Furnace."
- Ashby Township "corresponds with the District formerly known as Magisterial District No. 5, and is divided into two voting districts, the voting places of which are: Mt Jackson and the School house at Hudson's X Roads."
- Lee Township "corresponds with that portion of Shenandoah County which was formerly known as Magisterial District No. 6, and is divided into two voting districts, the voting places of which are: New Market and Forestville."
Over 150 years have passed since the names of local districts were first established according to the names of Confederate heroes. Following various censuses, the voting districts have been adjusted from time to time. For example, district 6 today refers to Strasburg and is not the number associated with Lee Township, which is a term that is no longer used to describe the magisterial districts in the 21st century. In 2023, Shenandoah County is divided into 12 precincts that represent 6 districts, none of which refers to Confederate leaders, but to the names of communities that aim to be spaces of inclusion for all its citizens:
- 1: Orkney Springs and New Market
- 2: Conicville and Mount Jackson
- 3: Edinburg, St. Luke, and Fort Valley
- 4: Woodstock
- 5: Cedar Creek, Toms Brook, and Lebanon Church
- 6: Strasburg
Leaders in our county have responsibilities to all of its members, not just those that align with a specific political party. In 1870, another event happened only days following these registration issues: the third-story balcony inside the Virginia Capitol building collapsed on April 27, 1870, killing more than 50 people.
The editors of the May 5th issue of the Shenandoah Herald mention this calamitous incident in Richmond, Virginia, by referencing The Petersburg Index: " 'If Virginia shall hereafter erect a tablet to tell the history of the late disaster may it be truthfully stated thereon that the people of the State learned from such a sudden and heart-rending reality, to discard minor differences and petty animosities, and dated a new departure towards peace and lasting happiness, from the awful event the tablet commemorated.' To this we heartily respond. Would that, from this time, the lesson taught could dwell in hearts, and influence the action of our people!" (Shenandoah Herald, 5 May 1870, Vol. 5, No. 35, p. 2).
And so I wish this mindset for us today. Can we move towards peace and lasting happiness by focusing on how the new names of southern campus schools can do the same as our local districts today: bring communities together to celebrate the beautiful spaces that we love so much in Shenandoah County, Va? Or will we continue to hold communities hostage through our minor differences and petty animosities by continuing to threaten to return to the oppressive misuse of the names of Confederate leaders, over 150 years later?
I was at the deathbed of a friend yesterday. It was hard and I didn't realize how I had scaffolded my own emotions to be a source of support for her loving caregivers until I got home late in the day, when my own well of emotion was released. Mourning those we love and admire is hard. But, it should never be the source of greater harm. In the end, it was wrong for Virginia's, for Shenandoah County's leaders to use names that define this beautiful place as weapons of defiance and idolatry. Each of us should really consider the overall impact of such decisions and work to create public spaces that welcome and communicate compassion and inclusion for all our citizens - not just the white majority.
One of the issues facing the Freedmen's Bureau was education of a newly freed populace, especially in communities hostile to it. On November 4, 1865, William Coan (writing a personal letter from Augusta County to Samuel Hunt) shared this perspective: "My last to you was from Woodstock since which I have been at New Market and Harrisonburg... Rebellion was deeply seated there and instead of getting better like total depravity seems to wax worse and worse. They do not boldly threaten the lives of those who may undertake to teach a school for colored children but, the more mild and nominally Union who are presumed to speak advisedly say that 'a teacher' could not live a week... I had a meeting of the colored people who are enthusiastic about the school... I have seen no place where Educational influences are more needed and demanded than in this Valley." The letter continues mentioning the "constant cruel and outrageous treatment of the blacks" at the hands of Rebels who have the "determination to make their condition as uncomfortable as possible;" and of a "deadly opposition to their being educated," which was even professed by Christians and ministers.
A personal letter dated 11 January 1866 from W. Storer How in Winchester to Orlando Brown in Richmond, Va, shares: "The detachments stationed at Woodstock and Harrisonburg came in yesterday under orders to be mustered out, and it is the unanimous belief of the officers that an agent of this Bureau cannot remain unmolested in these places if unsupported by the presence of troops. Gen. Ayres has found it necessary to send a guard with the supply wagons, because the drivers were stoned by mobs... I desire again to express my conviction that it is worse than useless to attempt a continuance of the Bureau in this district, without the presence and support of a military force. The Schools might live but I think it very doubtful."
And not just the schools were unwelcomed, but even teachers were at risk in Shenandoah County, Va. A Freedmen's Bureau report dated 30 April 1866 noted "the maltreatment of two Freedmen on the road to Mount Jackson to teach school" (Shenandoah County, Folio 77).
Amidst the local turmoil of providing an education for African Americans, political leaders in the national government could not agree on the type of relief given through the Freedmen's Bureau. The June 1866 Shenandoah Herald reveals the appropriation of funds to the Freedmen's Bureau as passed by the House of Representatives at a little over 11 million dollars. "The Senate however, thought this too much, and struck out and reduced various items, so as to make the aggregate but $6,547,550" (Vol 1, No 38, 28 June 1866, p2). The itemization included: telegraphing, medical department, and stationery and printing completely removed; as well as reductions in clothing, item for commissary stores, transportation, and school houses, the latter of which saw the greatest reduction from $3,000,000 to only $500,000.
Even with nominal funds, local dispositions toward education were not often favorable, especially for African Americans, in our country. A Shenandoah Herald notice To the Public from a citizen in Woodstock, Va, dated 5 November 1866 announces: "From various sources the report has reached me that it was my purpose to teach a school of Freedmen. The report being so utterly groundless, I can but pronounce it the invention of some base, malicious slanderer, designing my injury. The currency of the report is my reason for this public denial. Before the late war I had no sympathy or feeling not in keeping with the peculiar interest of this section; during the war I endeavored to endorse my views by a cheerful and prompt discharge of a soldier's duty; since its close, while acquiescing in the result. I have by no means been convinced - nothing but abject want could induce me to think of schools of any sort. White schools I have refused time and again. Negro schools, under no circumstances, would I teach. Believing the report was originated and circulated for the purpose of injuring me, I have given it this public denial" (Vol 2, No 5, 8 November 1866 p.2).
A personal letter dated 11 February 1867 from Officer Brackett of Staunton, Va, to Chaplain Manley in Richmond, Va, provides a more hopeful perspective of the educational situation: "I have the honor to report that the schools in my district have been in successful operation during the past month. We have opened one new school in Charlestown, W.Va. with two teachers, one at Woodstock, Va. with one, since the beginning of the year 67. I have not yet received a report from Woodstock. Without it, the number of pupils in our day schools, at Staunton, Lexington, Harrisonburg, Front Royal (Va.) and Harpers Ferry, Martinsburg, Charlestown and Shepherdstown (W.Va.) is eight hundred sixty seven, average attendance six hundred thirty six, average attendance at night schools, three hundred thirty one. We have met with no opposition from citizens during the last month, whilst we have urgent application from different places to open more schools both for colored and white children."
On 17 April 1867, Bracket wrote to Chaplain Manley in a personal letter: "we had in operation eleven schools located as follows: at Lexington, three, at Staunton, four, at Harrisonburg, two, at Woodstock, one, at Front Royal, one. Whole number of pupils enrolled in day schools, six hundred seventy one, with an average attendance of five hundred forty four. The night schools averaged two hundred fifty nine. The numbers diminish as the season advances."
Education is exactly what the African Americans in Shenandoah County, Virginia, wanted. A note in the Freedmen's Bureau records dated 24 January 1868 to Captain Hall from New Market reveals this issue had been reported as such: "We the colored citizens of New Market, Va" send a request "from the government for a School. We have a teacher from Washington, Penn., here he has commenced a school numbering now 27 scholars. We open one of our dwelling houses last Tuesday the 21. Next Monday we will have from forty-five to fifty scholars. All the Books we can get here in New Market is McGuffey's Newly revised... primer. We do not house any other books... We will do the best we can our children learn very fast and hope you will help us as soon as you can... Aid us all you can."
Another Freedmen's Bureau notice to Captain Hall from New Market, Va, dated 27 February 1868 states: "We have no school house to teach in. I have been keeping school in a dwelling house and the people is too poor to keep school alone. We are out of Books we need. We want geography and arithmetics..."
As American botanist and educator, George Washington Carver (1864-1943) would write, "Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom." Our fellow African American community members recognized this, which is why they wrote to Freedmen's Bureau agents requesting schools and resources. True education, on par with what any American citizen could receive is what they yearned for; not the watered-down version offered in teaching enslaved individuals how to read a Slave Bible (Week 7: The Courage of Christ).
Education impacts not only the present, but also the future of a people. Education has the potential to break down barriers, to establish empathy and positive connection in a community, to empower people to courageously face and solve challenges together. But, focusing on Shenandoah County, Va's commitment to education after the Civil War, equality and unity are not a part of the conversation for an entire century, as we will see.
SENK is an artist and writer in the Shenandoah Valley. The blog, 52 Weeks, is an ethical contemplation on the importance of choosing public school names that are not divisive within a community. Each post is based on over eight years of research by the author. 52 Weeks is a compassionate appeal to community and school board members to not revert to the names of Confederate leaders for Shenandoah County, Va, public schools.
47 / Maintaining Public Peace
46 / Brown v. Board
45 / Rebuilding a Pro-Confederate South
44 / An Out-of-area Education
43 / Where's the 'Common Sense Consideration'?
42 / Education Without Heart
41 / Self-Preservation
40 / Free Public Schools
39 / The Mask of Defiance
38 / The Golden Door of Freedom
37 / Prejudicial to our Race
36 / Are We Compassionate?
35 / Community
34 / Need for Radical Change
33 / Bitter Prejudice
32 / Fear of 'Negro Equality'
31 / Rachel, Lashed to Death
30 / The Whim of the Court: A Look at Jacob, Stacy, Lett; March & Peter; Jeffrey & Peter
29 / Ben, Tom, Ned, Clary, & two men from the furnace
28 / The Loss of Fortune
27 / James Scott, A Free Man
26 / The Unremembered, The Unheard
25 / The American Cause
24 / Tithables for the County & Parish
23 / Satisfactory Proof of Being Free
22 / Building Community Takes Trust
21 / Jacob's Case
20 / Whose Control?
19 / Racial Classifications
18 / The Cost of Freedom in 1840
17 / Sale of Children
16 / Bequeathal of Future Increase
15 / The First Annual
14 / From a Descendant of a CSA Soldier
13 / True Americanism
12 / Slavery. A Hot Topic.
11 / Real Character
10 / Real Apologies
9 / Freedom from Fear
8 / 250 Years
7 / The Courage of Christ
6 / Whose Narratives?
5 / The 13th Amendment
4 / Symbolic Act of Justice
3 / Giving Thanks
2 / Confederate Congress
1 / Veteran's Day