Prince Edward County, Virginia
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|Prince Edward County, Virginia|
Location in the state of Virginia
Virginia's location in the U.S.
|Named for||Prince Edward,
Duke of York and Albany
354 sq mi (917 km²)
353 sq mi (914 km²)
1 sq mi (3 km²), 0.31%
57/sq mi (22/km²)
Formation and County Seats
Prince Edward County, Virginia was formed in the Virginia Colony in 1754 from Amelia County. It was named for Prince Edward, second son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and younger brother of George III of the United Kingdom.
In the 1850s, the Southside Railroad between Petersburg and Lynchburg was built through Farmville between Burkeville and Pamplin City. The route, which was subsidized by a contribution from Farmville, required an expensive crossing of the Appomattox River slightly downstream which became known as the High Bridge.
The Southside Railroad was heavily damaged during the American Civil War. The High Bridge played a key role during Confederate General Robert E. Lee's final retreat from Petersburg to Appomattox Courthouse, where the surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant took place in April, 1865.
After the Civil War, under the leadership of former Confederate General William "Billy" Mahone, the Southside Railroad was rebuilt, and in 1870, was combined with the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad and the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad to form Mahone's Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (AM&O), which stretched 400 miles across the southern tier of Virginia from Norfolk on Hampton Roads to Bristol. After the Financial Panic of 1873, the AM&O fell into default on its debt, and was purchased in the early 1880s by new owners who renamed it the Norfolk and Western (N&W). In 1982, it became part of the current Norfolk Southern Railway system. Due to the high cost of maintaining the High Bridge over the Appomattox River, the line through Farmville was downgraded and eventually abandoned, in favor of the Farmville Belt Line, which had been built on a more direct line between Burkeville and Pamplin City as had originally been envisioned in the planning for the Southside Railroad.
Another railroad formerly served Farmville. In the late 19th century, the narrow gauge Farmville and Powhatan Railroad was built from Farmville through Cumberland County, Powhatan County, and Chesterfield County to reach Bermuda Hundred on the navigable portion of the James River near its confluence with the Appomattox River at City Point. It was later renamed the Tidewater and Western Railroad, but was dismantled in the early 20th century.
Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County is the source of Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, a case incorporated into Brown v. Board of Education which ultimately resulted in the desegregation of public schools in the U.S. Among the five cases decided under Brown, it was the only one initiated by students themselves, after they walked out in 1951 to protest overcrowding and poor conditions at their separate school under Jim Crow laws.
The all-black R.R. Moton High School, named after Robert Russa Moton, a noted educator from neighboring Amelia County, did not have a gymnasium, cafeteria, or teachers' restrooms. Due to overcrowding, three plywood buildings had been erected and some students had to take classes in an immobile school bus parked outside. Teachers and students did not have desks or blackboards, The school's requests for additional funds were denied by the all-white school board. On Monday, April 23, 1951, Barbara Johns, the sixteen-year-old niece of Reverend Vernon Johns, led students who staged a walkout protesting the conditions. The NAACP took up their case, however, only when the students—by a one vote margin—agreed to seek an integrated school rather than improved conditions at their black school. Then, Howard University-trained attorneys Spotswood W. Robinson and Oliver Hill filed suit.
In Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, a state court rejected the suit, agreeing with defense attorney T. Justin Moore that Virginia was vigorously equalizing black and white schools. The state verdict was appealed to the U.S. District Court, which ruled for the plaintiffs, a decision the school district and the state appealed. Subsequently, it was one of five incorporated into Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case which in 1954 overturned school segregation in the United States.
Massive Resistance: the only school district in the U.S. to close for 5 years
In 1956, the Virginia General Assembly passed a series of laws (the Stanley plan) to implement Massive Resistance, a policy promoted by the Byrd Organization led by former Virginia governor and U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, to avoid compliance with the Supreme Court decision in Brown.
One of the new Massive Resistance laws created a program of "tuition grants" which could be given to students so they could attend a private school of their choice. In practice, this meant state support of all-white schools that appeared as a response to forced integration. These newly formed schools became known as the "segregation academies".
As a result of the Brown decision, and changes in Virginia laws, in 1959 the Board of Supervisors for Prince Edward County refused to appropriate any funds at all for the County School Board, effectively closing all public schools rather than integrate them. Prince Edward County Public Schools remained closed for five years. Prince Edward County was the only school district in the country to resort to such extreme measures.
During the interruption in access to Prince Edward County's public schools, the Prince Edward Foundation was created. It founded a series of private schools to educate only the county's white children. These schools were supported by the tuition grants from the state and tax credits from the county. Collectively they became known as "Prince Edward Academy", one of Virginia's "segregation academies". Prince Edward Academy operated as the de facto school system and enrolled K-12 students at a number of facilities throughout the county.
From 1959 to 1964, black students in Prince Edward County had to go to school elsewhere or forgo their education altogether. Some got schooling by living with relatives in nearby communities or at makeshift schools the community created in church basements. Others were educated out of state with funds raised by groups such as the Society of Friends. In the final year (1963–1964), the NAACP-sponsored Prince Edward Free School picked up some of the slack by educating some of the black youth who had been unable to leave the county to attend public schools elsewhere.
In 1963, federal courts ordered the public schools to open; Prince Edward County then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court, ruling in Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, agreed in May 1964 in a 9-0 ruling, deciding in a unanimous decision that Prince Edward County's move violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, county and state supervisors gave in rather than risk prosecution and prison, ending the era of Massive Resistance in Virginia.
The same summer following the Griffith ruling, students from Queens College (New York) ventured south to Prince Edward County during their “Freedom Summer” Program to serve as teachers to the many African-American children who had been denied an education as well as participated in “Operation Catch-up”, the summer school program taught by these volunteers in order to prepare the students for when the schools reopened that fall. Many of the students spent the summers in the homes of many prominent Prince Edward African-Americans using local churches as school houses during the week. The students involved in the program would be reunited in October 2009, courtesy of the Moton Museum.
However, some pupils, as a result of Prince Edward County's actions, missed part or all of their education for five years. This group has been called the "Lost Generation" of Prince Edward County's youth.
Public education since 1964
In modern times, Prince Edward County Public Schools now operates single elementary, middle, and high schools for all students, regardless of race. They are:
- Prince Edward County Elementary School
- Prince Edward County Middle School
- Prince Edward County High School
Private education since 1964
Even after the re-opening of the public schools, Prince Edward Academy remained segregated. Many of the segregation academies in Virginia eventually closed; others changed their missions and eliminated discriminatory policies. Some yielded on integration only after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revoked the tax-free status of non-profit discriminatory private schools. Prince Edward Academy was one of the latter and lost its tax-exempt status in 1978. In 1986, the school began to accept all students regardless of race or ethnicity. It was renamed the Fuqua School in 1992.
Robert Russa Moton Museum
The former R.R. Moton High School building in Farmville has been recognized as a nationally significant community landmark. In 1998, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. It now houses the Robert Russa Moton Museum, a center for the study of civil rights in education.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 354 square miles (916 km²), of which 353 square miles (914 km²) is land and 1 square mile (3 km²) (0.31%) is water. Most of the county's streams drain into the Appomattox River, a tributary of the James River, but in the southeastern corner of the county, streams drain via the Nottoway River into the Chowan River and thence into Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. The highest point in the county is the top of Leighs Mountain at 714 feet above sea level.
- Cumberland County - north
- Buckingham County - northwest
- Amelia County - northeast
- Appomattox County - west
- Nottoway County - east
- Charlotte County - southwest
- Lunenburg County - southeast
As of the census of 2000, there were 19,720 people, 6,561 households, and 4,271 families residing in the county. The population density was 56 people per square mile (22/km²). There were 7,527 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 62.17% White, 35.82% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.95% from two or more races. 0.94% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 6,561 households out of which 29.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.50% were married couples living together, 14.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.90% were non-families. 28.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the county, the population was spread out with 20.20% under the age of 18, 23.50% from 18 to 24, 22.50% from 25 to 44, 19.60% from 45 to 64, and 14.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 95.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.20 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $31,301, and the median income for a family was $38,509. Males had a median income of $29,487 versus $21,659 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,510.
About 14.6 percent of families and 18.9 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4 percent of those under age 18 and 15.9 percent of those ages 65 and over. Persons below poverty in the year of 2007 were 20.3 percent compared to 9.9 percent of Virginia. Native Americans accounted for 71.8 percent in 2000. There is a relatively large amount of children between the ages of 12 and 17. This age group accounts for 27 percent of the poverty.
Unemployment accounted for 10.3 percent in Prince Edward County compared to 7.2 in all of Virginia.
- Hampden Sydney
- Longwood University, Virginia
- Joseph Eggleston Johnston, Confederate Army General
- Henry Watkins Allen, (1820–1866), Confederate Army officer, was born in Prince Edward County.
- Blanche Kelso Bruce, the first African American Senator, was born as a slave in Prince Edward County.  
- Abraham Bedford Venable (1758–1811), was a representative and senator from Prince Edward County. He was also a lawyer and a president of the Bank of Virginia. He died in a fire in Richmond in 1811. 
- Reverend Vernon Johns noted Civil Rights Leader
- Jill L. Ogline (2007). A Mission to a Mad County: Black Determination, White Resistance and Educational Crisis in Prince Edward County, Virginia. ProQuest. ISBN 978-0-549-17053-2. http://books.google.com/books?id=WYmwJB0TaLUC&. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
- . Weldon Cooper Center 2010 Census Count Retrieved September 9, 2011
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. http://www.naco.org/Counties/Pages/FindACounty.aspx. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "Both Victors And Victims: Prince Edward County, Virginia, The Naacp, And Brown". 126.96.36.199. http://188.8.131.52/search?q=cache:vaMOCnXgDsIJ:www.virginialawreview.org/content/pdfs/90/1667.pdf+Prince+Edward+County+Lost+Generation&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us. Retrieved 2011-09-24.
- Saxon, Wolfgang (January 25, 1995). "Albertis S. Harrison Jr., 88, Dies; Led Virginia as Segregation Fell". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE5D81E3EF936A15752C0A963958260.
- [dead link]
- "Leigh Mountain (variant: Leighs Mountain)". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=gnispq:3:::NO::P3_FID:1469304.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- Income and Poverty in Prince Edward County, Virginia[dead link]
- "Recovery Tracker". Projects.propublica.org. http://projects.propublica.org/recovery/locale/virginia/prince-edward. Retrieved 2011-09-24.
- Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Marquis Who's Who. 1967.
|Buckingham County||Cumberland County||Amelia County|
|Appomattox County||Nottoway County|
|Prince Edward County, Virginia|
|Charlotte County||Lunenburg County|