Massive Resistance oral-history project hosts closing ceremony
Cassie Williams Jones
University Public Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of African American Studies hosted a closing ceremony Friday for one phase of a project to collect oral histories from former Virginia public school students who were denied an education as part of Massive Resistance to school desegregation in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Held at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia in Richmond, Sen. Henry L. Marsh lll, a former civil rights attorney, spoke, along with several others who lived through Massive Resistance in Virginia. A video montage of some of the oral histories was shown.
The Department of African American Studies teamed with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission to launch the project, which is supported by a $48,000 grant from the VCU Global Education Office.
Representatives of both groups traveled to South Africa last December for training at a center that specializes in conducting oral-history interviews.
During the spring 2012 semester, African American Studies instructor Mark A. Bolden, Ph.D., taught a service-learning course in conducting oral history interviews, based on what he learned in South Africa. The class interviewed 12 former students about their experiences.
School officials in Arlington County, Charlottesville, Norfolk, Prince Edward County and Warren County closed schools rather than integrate them as required by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case. The practice, known as Massive Resistance, disrupted the education of thousands of children.