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Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE):10th Anniversary

DOVE: A Decade of Difference

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of DOVE 2008-2018


Over the past 10 years, the DOVE organization has worked to PRESERVE, PACKAGE & PROMOTE, and BUILD COMMUNITY around the history of school desegregation in Virginia. The DOVE project was created in 2008 as a collaborative effort to create a guide to historic resources that document Virginia's school desegregation process from the mid-1940s through the mid-1980s. Regional task forces were created to identify other records holders and inventory other records.

DOVE members pursued and received grant funding, created and distributed a brochure, got publicity through local media, developed a training module for records surveys, collected data and materials, and created a catalog of resources throughout the state to be used by researchers, educators, and individual citizens. In 2012, DOVE joined with AARP Virginia, Virginia Conference NAACP and Urban League of Hampton Roads for the "School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve and Empower" traveling exhibit which toured various regions of the state to gather firsthand accounts of people who experienced both the segregation and desegregation of Virginia's public schools.

The following are some of the success stories marking changes in the landscape since DOVE's founding in 2008.

School Desegregation Records Surveys

School Desegregation Records Surveys

Tagline In order to use the records, you need to know the records. DOVE helped us get to that point.
Partners, Funders Lead: George Mason University, Old Dominion University
Contributing DOVE members: All institutions
Timeframe 2009 to Present
The Need Prior to this initiative, little was known about desegregation records, where they were located, how they could be used, and the condition they were in.
The Solution DOVE established documentation and a workflow for individuals and teams to survey collections at locations around the Commonwealth. These survey materials yield important information regarding the records creator, nature of the records, quantity, condition, arrangement, physical location, contact information of repository and access information. This information was disseminated in the DOVE Catalog. DOVE conducted three training sessions dealing with the mechanics of records survey for participants.
Impact Access to research materials is dependent upon one's knowledge of the existence of the records. DOVE members spread out across the Commonwealth, visiting repositories and compiling information about collections that are useful to current and future researchers.
What's Next? Continuation of the process as more relevant records are identified.
DOVE Region Boundaries

DOVE Catalog

DOVE Catalog

Tagline It was hit or miss for researchers looking for Virginia school desegregation records until DOVE created this one-stop resource.
Partners, Funders Lead: Old Dominion University
Contributing DOVE members: George Mason University, ?, ?

2008-2012 (Wordpress)
November 2013-March 2018 (ViewShare)
March 2018-Present (Wordpress)

The Need

Scholars and writers on the subject of desegregation of Virginia schools had no individual electronic resource to guide them to the many materials available to them on the subject both inside and outside the Commonwealth. They had to locate these collections individually on their own.

The Solution DOVE has addressed this situation by compiling and publishing a web-based listing of more than two-hundred collections of research materials, their locations, and contact information for the repositories who have custody of the materials. This resource is available to anyone and can be searched by keyword, or browsed in its entirety or by tag.
Impact This resource helps to promote discovery of and access to archival materials relating to desegregation of Virginia Schools. Accomplished researchers often begin their research with a web search for relevant materials. The DOVE Catalog helps connect interested researchers with these relevant materials quickly.
What's Next? Individuals and organizations should continue to add to the catalog so that more materials on the subject can be located in one place, saving time and money for researchers.
DOVE Catalog

Oral History: Recording, Collection, Promotion

Oral History: Recording, Collection, Promotion

Tagline While oral history interviews regarding desegregation of Virginia's educational system existed before DOVE, DOVE's efforts in recording, collecting, and promoting oral history has increased the number of these valuable resources and the public's awareness of, and access to, them.
Partners, Funders Lead: George Mason University
Contributing DOVE members: Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Partners: NAACP, AARP/Virginia, Urban League
Timeframe 2012-2018
The Need Prior to DOVE's initiative to collect and create access to new oral history interviews, there were fewer options for researchers who were interested in first-hand accounts regarding desegregation of Virginia schools. DOVE had identified some existing oral histories, though it had not collected any oral histories on its own.
The Solution

With support from AARP/Virginia, Old Dominion University, George Mason University, and Virginia Commonwealth University, DOVE compiled a list of guidelines and best practices for oral history collection and processing workflow in 2012.

Oral history interviews were captured during the Learn Empower and Preserve (LEAP) project in 2012. DOVE organized events in 10 communities across the Commonwealth to have a dialogue about desegregation in Virginia and collect oral histories. 113 Oral histories were recorded via both audio and video capture during this program.

Subsequent interviews were collected during visits to the Glayden School in Leesburg, the Gum Springs Community Center, and visits to individuals' homes.


The scholarly significance of oral history is in documenting people's memories and life experiences, which otherwise might have never been recorded as written documents. From an educational perspective, oral histories add richness and personal perspective to the historical record and can engage students and scholars in a lively study of history. There are some experiences that can only be captured accurately and in minute detail in an oral history interview.

Oral histories collected during the LEAP's Eastern Shore swing may have been the first known records focusing on that area's school desegregation.

What's Next? Continued collection of oral history interviews will bolster DOVE's growing collection.
DOVE Tell Us Your Story

Let's get the history as told by the people who lived the history.

- Andrew Heidelberg, one of the Norfolk 17

Preserving Firsthand Accounts of School Desegregation

Preserving Firsthand Accounts of School Desegregation


Oral histories on school desegregation in Virginia

Partners, Funders

Principal partners include DOVE members and volunteers who have conducted oral history interviews with individuals who experienced school desegregation in Virginia firsthand. These include Zach Logan, who organized and conducted a series of interviews, with assistance from students at Warren County High School, related to the closing of the schools in Warren County, Virginia, in 1958. Another noteworthy project was organized by Carla Savage-Wells, and conducted by students at Old Dominion University, related to school desegregation and the civil rights era on the Eastern Shore in Virginia.

Timeframe 2013-present
The Need As individuals who experienced school desegregation in Virginia firsthand grow older, their memories of the process often fade, or deteriorate because of the effects of age. A growing number of participants in school desegregation efforts in the state have passed away, and it is important for these reasons and others to capture and preserve their recollections and interpretations of the school desegregation process while the opportunity exists.
The Solution

To help ensure that memories of the school desegregation process are preserved, DOVE created an Oral History Toolkit with potential interview questions, a consent form, a list of best practices, and other relevant information, to share with those who might conduct oral histories on the subject. In addition, DOVE has offered in-person support and expertise to oral history projects. As part of the DOVE/NAACP/AARP traveling exhibit, DOVE volunteers also conducted oral history interviews which have been preserved as part of the DOVE Digital Collection at Old Dominion University.


These interviews with individuals who experienced school desegregation firsthand will allow scholars and other interested persons to learn about the school desegregation process from sources outside of traditional records, such as newspaper accounts and court records.

What's Next? In the future, DOVE hopes to create teams of scholars, volunteers, and activists, organized in hubs around the state, who will conduct oral history interviews to expand our digital collection as well as to preserve this important aspect of history.
DOVE Digital Collection

Let's get the history as told by the people who lived the history.

- Andrew Heidelberg, one of the Norfolk 17

“The Long Road from Brown: School Desegregation in Virginia”

“The Long Road from Brown: School Desegregation in Virginia”


Workshops for school teachers to improve content knowledge and lesson plans related to school desegregation in Virginia.

Partners, Funders Old Dominion University and Virginia Commonwealth University are partners, with financial support from The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
Timeframe 2015-present
The Need

One of DOVE's longstanding goals has been to share knowledge of school desegregation in Virginia to allow the public to obtain a better understanding of the nature, challenges, and legacies of the process.

The Solution

In 2015 and 2017, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded "Landmarks of American History and Culture" grant funding to Dr. Yonghee Suh of the School of Education at Old Dominion University and Dr. Brian J. Daugherity of the Department of History at Virginia Commonwealth University to organize workshops to bring school teachers from around the United States to VCU to study school desegregation in Virginia. During the workshops, participating teachers visited historic sites, listened to guest presentations, and discussed reading and teaching assignments related to school desegregation in Virginia. Teachers also developed and honed lesson plans related to the subject to utilize in their own classrooms.


This project has allowed DOVE, a partner on these NEH applications, to provide content knowledge of school desegregation to approximately 150 school teachers from around the United States, and to make lesson plans that were developed by a number of these teachers accessible to other teachers and to the general public.

What's Next? The project co-directors, Yonghee Suh and Brian Daugherity, plan to apply for funding for additional workshops to be held in 2020.

Digital Collection Usage

Digital Collection Usage

Tagline 100+ audio and video interviews with Virginians involved in school desegregation are available globally through DOVE's Digital Collection.
Partners, Funders Lead: Old Dominion University
Partners: WHRO
Timeframe 2013-2018
The Need DOVE's recorded interviews gave people a chance to share what they lived through regarding school desegregation. But having these interviews collected and available online was the important next step.
The Solution

Old Dominion University collected all interviews and other materials (e.g., photographs) from DOVE's traveling exhibit, and created a digital collection that is available globally for everyone -- from family members to teachers to researchers -- to use. Additional interviews collected through DOVE are also added to the digital collection.

Many of the interviews were transcribed by WHRO staff and are included in their eMediaVA web site which is used by teachers throughout Virginia.


Since 2013, the entire DOVE Collection on ODU's site (including 110 oral histories) has been accessed over 11,500 times. Forty oral histories on the eMediaVA site have been viewed 844 times since 2013, presumably by K-12 teachers and students.

What's Next? ODU and WHRO will be expanding transcripts and shared files. Hopefully the collection will continue to grow with more people able to tell their stories and more people listening.
Abstract numbers

Usage by Year

Year Times Accessed
2014 494
2015 1,654
2016 2,373
2017 3,178
2018 2,167

DOVE Web Site

DOVE Web Site

Tagline Where you can find all things DOVE and whom to contact.
Partners, Funders Lead: Old Dominion University, DOVE Co-Chairs
Timeframe 2009-present
The Need DOVE has been involved in numerous activities and provides resources for all levels of research and teaching. Gathering it all together in one place gives DOVE a home online.
The Solution Old Dominion University has been maintaining a Web site for DOVE from the beginning. The site provides information about the history of DOVE and the history of school desegregation in Virginia, a platform for people to tell their stories, information about donating historical materials, and links to the digital collection and catalog. We recently added an Oral History Toolkit, Teacher Resources, and a Guide to Resources for Further Study of Virginia School Desegregation.

Users have a place to explore and find out who to contact.

What's Next? The Web site will continue to grow with DOVE.

Moton School Story: Children of Courage

Moton School Story: Children of Courage

Tagline The Robert Russa Moton Museum is the student birthplace of America's Civil Rights Revolution.
Partners, Funders Altria Group, Cabell Foundation, Dominion Resources, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, National Education Association, Prince Edward County, Virginia Tobacco Commission, U.S. Department of Education, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, VDOT Enhancement Program, Virginia Tobacco Commission, USDA-Rural Development, Virginia Community Capital. Hundreds of individual donors helped to support our Moton 2011 Campaign and continue to support the museum via annual giving.
Timeframe The restoration of the Museum and creation of the permanent exhibition took place between the timeframe of 2008 - 2013. In 2015 we also completed our Tar Paper Shack Building which provides additional meeting space and helps to accommodate large tour groups.
The Need The ultimate need was the renovation of the former Robert Russa Moton High School which now serves as the Robert Russa Moton Museum. In addition to the need to renovate and preserve the building there was also a need to create a permanent exhibition that would tell the story of Prince Edward County Citizens and the leading role that they played in America's transition from segregation toward integration. The Museum helps to tell the story, serves as a learning lab for visitors, and has been a healing ground for those impacted by the history.
The Solution

The Moton Story: Children of Courage is a six gallery, 5,500 square feet permanent exhibition that chronicles the stories of Prince Edward citizens as they moved their community and all of America from a segregated to an integrated society between 1951-1964. Visitors can sit in the same auditorium where on April 23rd, 1951, Barbara Johns and her fellow classmates made history.

Between 2008-2011 the work at the museum included creation of the film Strike: A Call to Action that chronicles the student walkout of April 23rd, 1951. It also included restoration of the Auditorium (Gallery 1), preparation work for exhibit galleries (II-VI), renovation of the Gift Shop, Offices, Board Room, and Restrooms. In 2012 - 2013 work continued onsite at the Moton Museum. This included the fabrication and installation of the exhibit galleries (II-VI), and the parking lot and bus pull off. Later work has included the our Tar Paper Shack Building and landscaping.


In 1951 in Farmville, Virginia, sixteen-year-old Barbara Johns bravely organized and inspired her fellow 450 students to walk out of school and protest the overcrowded and inadequate conditions at Prince Edward County's all-black Robert Russa Moton High School. This strike launched a 13-year struggle for better educational opportunities in Prince Edward County that emblematized the youth-driven efforts for civil rights across the United States. The court case that arose from the strike was one of the five cases decided by the Supreme Court in its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. It was the only case initiated by students.

Following that court decision, in 1959 Prince Edward County became the only school district in the nation to close its public schools for five years rather than desegregate. "Massive Resistance" was the strategy by Virginia's white politicians in the late 1950s to prevent public school desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education. Under the leadership of the Rev. L. Francis Griffin and with the aid of the Kennedy administration, another suit made it to the Supreme Court to reopen the public schools in 1964. The story of civil rights in Prince Edward County and Virginia teaches people about the capacity of everyday, local people to use their constitutional rights to create lasting social change. It is a powerful and moving story of resilience. The museum and exhibition also makes a impact by helping individuals relate historical content and events to their own lives. Museums and historic landmarks have the distinct ability to immerse visitors in a sense of time and place. The authenticity of historical sites, objects and artifacts, and first-person accounts help visitors engage with history on a deeper level. To see and hear the voices of people involved in the Moton story is a powerful experience.

What's Next? The Moton has now operated for almost two decades, and the permanent exhibition is nearing five years old. With a new partnership established with Longwood University in 2015 that provides financial stability, we are well positioned to embark on our next stage of growth. With a strong infrastructure in place and growing audiences, the museum is examining how it can better serve younger audiences (K-8) and make the museum experience more engaging to learners of multiple ages and abilities. Additionally we will continue to respond to our various facilities needs in order s to maintain this National Historical Landmark or future generations.
DOVE Timeline

Publications related to School Desegregation in Virginia

Publications related to School Desegregation

Tagline DOVE's role in the development and promotion of a number of books, journal articles, newspaper articles, and online publications related to school desegregation in Virginia.
Partners, Funders Principal partners include DOVE members and volunteers who have published such works, including Derrek Alridge, Brian Daugherity, Ted DeLaney, Charles Ford, Carmen Foster, Jim Hershman, Brian Lee, Shirley Lee, Larissa Smith-Fergeson, Yonghee Suh, Bob Vay, and many others. It is worth remembering that many of these works have benefited from DOVE's longstanding efforts to preserve school desegregation records in archives and repositories around the state.
Timeframe 2008-present
The Need

One of the principal reasons behind the creation of DOVE was the lack of knowledge and understanding about the process of school desegregation in Virginia, among the general public as well as school teachers, librarians, and archivists around the state.

The Solution To address the widespread lack of knowledge and understanding about the process of school desegregation in Virginia, DOVE has encouraged, supported, and helped publicize a large number of academic and popular publications related to the subject, since 2008. All DOVE meetings and phone calls include a segment/portion dedicated to recent scholarship or publications related to the subject. In addition, DOVE regularly promotes publications through its social media presence, newspaper interviews, and related work projects.
Impact The tremendous growth in the number of publications related to school desegregation in Virginia offers members of the public, school teachers, librarians, archivists, and academics in all disciplines the opportunity to easily expand their knowledge of this important time period in Virginia's past, and how the process of school desegregation in Virginia still impacts the commonwealth today.
What's next? This work will continue indefinitely. In addition, the newly reorganized DOVE catalog will allow the organization the opportunity to more easily share resources and research opportunities related to school desegregation with interested parties.
Stack of Books

Exhibit: "School Desegregation: Learn/Preserve/Empower"

"School Desegregation: Learn/Preserve/Empower"

Tagline Pre-DOVE, this history was unknown to most Virginians. With DOVE's 2012 road show, communities came together to tell their stories for the first time.
Partners, Funders Lead: Old Dominion University
Contributing DOVE members: George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Ann Jimerson
Partners: AARP/Virginia, NAACP/Virginia, Urban League/Hampton Roads
Funders: AARP/Virginia
Timeframe 2012 - 2013
The Need Prior to 2012, few communities in Virginia had a recorded history of how they had integrated their schools.
The Solution

With support from AARP/Virginia, Old Dominion University created a captivating and informative portable exhibit, and identified partners in sites throughout Virginia. George Mason developed protocols for recording oral histories and trained volunteers. In April 2012, the DOVE team held its grand opening event for the "School Desegregation: Learn/Preserve/Empower" traveling exhibit, in Melfa, Virginia, on the state's Eastern Shore.

In the 2012 and 2013, the exhibit traveled to over a dozen events. The events included talks about the state's history of school desegregation, the film "The Lost Class of '59," and oral history gathering. The exhibit provided a backdrop for community and individual discussions of their experiences integrating schools.

In 2013 and 2014, education classes at Old Dominion University continued the "School Desegregation: Learn/Preserve/Empower" project by conducting oral history interviews.


The events received local, state, and national publicity in newspapers, TV and on the internet. The traveling exhibit raised public awareness of this important history in communities throughout Virginia. For many communities and for many individuals, it was the first time they had discussed the lived experiences of students and teachers during school integration. Over 7,000 people visited the exhibit. Over 160 people told their stories in oral histories and contributed photos that are available in DOVE's digital collection. Oral histories in some areas are the first known records of desegregation for those schools.

What's Next? The exhibit itself is still relevant. AARP continues to make it available to libraries, universities, museums, and community groups as we spread the word about school desegregation history. In the summer of 2018, for example, a community group in New Kent County, Virginia, displayed the DOVE exhibit as part of a series of public events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Green vs. County School Board of New Kent County.
Paula Martin Smith with DOVE Project

Exhibit Locations


  • Melfa
  • Hampton
  • Urban League of Hampton Roads Awards dinner
  • Richmond, Alexandria, and Farmville
  • Annual Black Aged Luncheon in Richmond
  • Lynchburg Public Library
  • Virginia Museum of Western History
  • Danville Fine Arts Museum (Paula Smith/Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc./ Holbrook-Ross Streets Historic District)
  • Roanoke Library; returned to Lynchburg Public Library
  • NAACP Virginia State Conference
  • Old Dominion University

50th Anniversary Commemoration, Green v New Kent

50th Anniversary, Green v New Kent


With a series of anniversary events, New Kent County brought local and national attention to what some have called "The Radical Supreme Court Decision That America Forgot"

Partners, Funders New Kent County, Pepsi Cola, C & F Bank, Dominion Virginia Energy, Dove Virginia, Criss Cross Properties, LLC., Library of Virginia, AARP, Coca Cola, Whitmore Chevrolet

April 28 - May 27, 2018

The Need

New Kent County commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 landmark U. S. Supreme Court Decision, Charles C. Green vs. County School Board of New Kent County, VA that forever changed education in the United States. The decision of Green vs County School Board of New Kent County, was handed down on May 27, 1968 and established the duty of the school boards "across the U.S." to convert to a school system in which racial discrimination would be eliminated and all children can attend the same schools.

In a 2018 article, Atlantic Magazine stated its impact: "In Green v. New Kent County, the Court saw school desegregation as a reparative process—likely the closest thing to reparations that the American judicial system has ever endorsed." Yet in the prior 50 years, this historic act had slipped from the history books, and even the county's schools failed to teach it consistently.

The Solution Energetic leaders in New Kent County spent the year leading up to the anniversary forming a community committee and planning for a series of celebrations, listed here. They engaged the people who desegregated the schools, Green family members, and local leaders, including schools, government, and faith groups, and drew hundreds of participants. DOVE lent its traveling exhibit to offer context, and DOVE's co-chair and other members helped commemorate the history.
Impact The commemoration series put the Green decision back on people's radar, locally, throughout the state, and nationally. The New Kent County Superintendent of Schools was so moved that he pledged that within the upcoming school year, he would institute changes that ensure that every child who graduates from the school system will know the role their county played in bringing about national change.
What's Next? Local historians and those who lived through the desegregation process continue to ensure that everyone knows the impact of this case. DOVE members continue to seek ways to fit the story into history curricula.

Reference: Stancil, Will. "The Radical Supreme Court Decision That America Forgot." Atlantic Magazine, May 29, 2018.



Saturday, April 28, 2018, 11:00 - 5:00 PM. OPEN HOUSE @ New Kent County, VA Historic Courthouse. "Education Matters"

Pictorial Display that consists of the Strong Men and Women of Virginia 2018 Panel Exhibit, AARP- Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE) Panel Exhibit, George Watkins School and New Kent School display.

Saturday, May 5, 2018, 2:00 - 4:00 PM, "Introduction to Charles C. Green et al v. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia, et al", at Watkins Elementary School Auditorium.

Served as an introduction to the little known court case of Green vs County School Board. Program was made up of a panel of students, parents, and teachers who lived thru the event. The program was narrated by Dr. Jody Allen, College of W & M, Williamsburg, VA and Dr. Brian Daugherity, Professor of History at VCU, Richmond, VA.

Saturday, May 5, 2018, Kids Corner at 2:00 PM at Watkins Elementary School. 6501 New Kent Hwy, Quinton, VA 23141.

Kids Corner for younger learners. Storytelling and discussion of the Green case as they color related pages.

Tuesday Evening, May 15, 2018, 7:00 PM, at Watkins Elementary School.

The History of Watkins School and Its Properties". This program provided the history of the Watkins Elementary School and its properties from its beginning as New Kent Training School (1930 - 1949), George W. Watkins High School (1950 - 1969), and now Watkins Elementary School (1970 - present).

Sunday, May 20, 2018, 3:00 PM, New Kent High School Auditorium "Celebrating Dr. Green's Legacy In Song".

Music was rendered by the One Voice Chorus Ensemble.

Sunday, May 27, 2018, 2:00 PM, New Kent High School Auditorium. "Civil Rights in the 21st Century and Beyond".

This was the final event for the 50th Anniversary Commemoration for Green v County School Board. There was a short film on an interview with Dr. Green and others followed by a panel discussion on "Civil Rights in the 21st Century & Beyond." The panel was moderated by Dr. Jody Allen, of the College of William & Mary.

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