Farmville 1963 civil rights protests
Collection of images of school desegregation protests in Farmville, Virginia, the county seat of Prince Edward County.
More About This Collection
Date of Original
Civil rights demonstrations--Virginia--Farmville
Civil rights movements--Virginia--Farmville
African Americans--Civil rights--Virginia--Farmville
Segregation in education--Virginia--Prince Edward County
Farmville (Va.)--Race relations
Prince Edward County (Va.)--Race relations
Collection of images of school desegregation protests in Farmville, Virginia, the county seat of Prince Edward County. The protesters, comprised of African American high school-age students and others, demanded that local and state authorities eliminate racial segregation in public facilities and reopen the public schools in Prince Edward County, which had been closed since 1959 to avoid integration.
The protests were organized and led by the Rev. L. Francis Griffin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmville. They called their summer of protests a "Program of Action." With the help of members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and others, Griffin trained the students in nonviolent protest. Richmond lawyers Samuel Tucker and Henry Marsh advised the students on how to conduct themselves with law enforcement officials. Many were arrested during the course of the summer.
Civil unrest in Farmville began in late July and continued through September. Protests varied from day to day, week to week, and included sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, picketing segregated businesses, marches that blocked traffic, and other forms of civil disobedience. A large portion of the images show protesters trying in vain to purchase tickets at the segregated movie theater, then picketing the theater. On one Sunday, the protesters participated in a "church-in," during which African-Americans tried to integrate four white churches in Farmville with mixed success.
Many of these activities are documented in this collection of images. A large number of the original black and white photographs were taken by J.D. Crute, an amateur photographer hired by the Farmville Police Department, under the supervision of Police Chief Otto Smith Overton, who served 42 years before retiring in 1996. These photographs were intended to be used in court proceedings as evidence against any protesters who were arrested. Currently the originals are in a private collection.
James Branch Cabell Library. Special Collections and Archives