In this WSB newsfilm clip from February 29, 1960, reporter Ray Moore interviews Roy R. Pearson, administrator for the Prince Edward School Foundation, about the private school system set up for white students in Prince Edward County, Virginia.
The clip begins with WSB-TV reporter Moore sitting at a table with Roy R. Pearson. Moore asks a question, although only a portion of it is recorded. Pearson responds that the private school system is funded entirely through donations, both by residents of the county and by supporters throughout the country. Moore asks if the foundation charges tuition, and Pearson indicates there are no tuition charges for the year because of the amount of donations received. Asked about enrollment, Pearson claims that all potential white students in the county, nearly 1,500, are enrolled in the system. The clip breaks and Moore asks if the quality of education has been evaluated. Pearson proudly replies that the two upper schools in the system were accredited by the Virginia Board of Education earlier in the year. Pearson announces that all but two of the teachers employed by the foundation came from the public school system.
School integration lawsuits in Virginia began in 1951 in Prince Edward County. That case was eventually incorporated into the United States Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. On May 17, 1954, the court ruled segregated public education illegal. State officials in Virginia organized a plan of "massive resistance" to court-ordered desegregation by passing laws requiring integrated schools to close and providing tuition grants to white students. In the fall of 1958, nine white public schools closed in three Virginia localities to avoid court-ordered desegregation. After both state and federal courts overturned the law requiring the closure of integrated schools, several schools in Norfolk and Arlington, Virginia opened on an integrated basis in February 1959. However, in the more racially mixed southern part of the state, Prince Edward County officials chose to close the school system and establish private schools for white students rather than integrate. The Prince Edward County schools remained closed from the fall of 1959 until the fall of 1964. During that time, approximately 1,700 African American students were not formally educated unless they left the county. White leaders from around the South facing court-ordered integration looked to the Prince Edward School Foundation as an example and a leader in resisting desegregation.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of reporter Ray Moore interviewing Roy R. Pearson, administrator for the Prince Edward School Foundation, about the private school system set up for white students in Prince Edward County, Virginia, 1960 February 29, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0918, 3:02/04:16, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.