Thursday, October 11, 2012

The DOVE (Desegregation of Virginia Education) Project

Paula Martin Smith as a Young
Girl During Virginia's Desegregation Era

In 1951, sixteen-year old Barbara Johns and other African-American students walked out of the Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville to protest the school’s poor conditions. Their actions became part of the movement to desegregate public schools in the Unites States.

Virginia’s public schools remained segregated until 1954 when the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregation was unconstitutional in the landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS.    

A new project, the DOVE project (Desegregation of Virginia Education) was created by Virginia AARP, Old Dominion University and the Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc. to identify, locate, catalog and encourage the preservation of records such as photographs and newspaper articles during the time of Virginia’s desegregation process. The project also includes a traveling exhibit to various localities in the commonwealth to acquire oral histories.

In 2012, the exhibit toured locations in Hampton, Richmond, Farmville, Lynchburg, Alexandria, the Eastern Shore and Roanoke to gather personal accounts and artifacts from the 1940s to the 1980s related to the desegregation of Virginia schools.

The DOVE team will be visiting Danville on Saturday, November 10 at the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History. The public is invited to share photographs, documents, and memorabilia and to participate in oral history collecting. 
Danville native Paula Martin Smith is featured on the DOVE exhibit posters and in the DOVE brochures. Read in Evince Magazine how Paula was surprised when she found out the image of her was chosen for the program. In the article, Paula also recounts how when she was a young girl, she was escorted off a Danville city bus because she would not move to the back.  

Please see the DOVE blog for more information and resources.