Dr. Spirit's Southern Tradition

Less Government/More Freedom (for who?)
In 1959 Shirley turned 6 years old. Her excitement grew as fall approached because she would be going to school for the first time. What she didn't understand was that 1959 was to be different. The US Federal Court had ordered Prince Edward County, Virginia, where Shirley lived, to desegregate its schools. And the county school board, rather than integrate their system as ordered, closed all the public schools.

Shirley's story is a true one, as related by Don Baker in a Washington Post article published in 2001. By the time the schools reopened in 1964, Shirley was 11 years old and should have been in the 5th grade. As disturbing as this was, for the teenagers of Prince Edward County the situation was far more serious. Not being able to attend school from 1959 to 1964 meant missing high school completely. Job opportunities would be severely limited without a high school diploma, and college plans were out of the question. Many families sent their children to live with family members in neighboring counties or states so they could be educated. Those who did not have family to turn to were left without formal schooling.

Further reading:
Prince Edward County Virginia School Closing Issue:

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