Category Archives: Media

Local History: New Resources and Recommended Reading

The Digital Public Library of America is a portal to digitized collections across the United States. I served as a volunteer ambassador for several years. Last year, I used their search engine and collections to create a series of postcards.

b x w photo of police and protesters
Public Domain, courtesy of VCU

Today, DPLA announced the launch of the  Digital Virginias service hub, which offers more than 58,000 items for research and exploration. One of the collections highlighted in the press release is a group of 490 photographs from Virginia Commonwealth University that document the 1963 Civil Rights protests in Farmville, Virginia. The photos, like the one to the left of protesters and police, have been released into the public domain.

Police arrest protesters outside College Shoppe, Main St., Farmville, Va., July 27, 1963
Photo Courtesy of Freedom Now Project (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

VCU is sponsoring the Freedom Now Project, an interactive introduction to the Farmville protests. Photos in the Flickr set include extensive notes help with identifications and context. For instance, this photo identifies the protesters and police outside the College Shoppe and includes a link to a newspaper article about the arrests.

Farmville is located in Prince Edward County, which was at the heart of the closing of public schools in Virginia known as Massive Resistance. The photos in the collection were taken by the police with the thought of being used as part of court cases.  Now, in the fullness of time, they show the raw emotions–frustration and persistence–as the protesters interact with the police.

In her book, Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County, Kristen Green tells the story of Massive Resistance from the ground as she grew up in Prince Edward County in the 1980s and attended the private school–known as a segregation academy–that was begun during the public school closings in 1960. She weaves the history with her own story and confronts ugly truths: her grandparents led the fight to close the schools and deny the county’s African American (and poor white) residents five years of schooling rather than integrate the schools. It took nearly 25 years for the private school to admit black students and then only under an ultimatum from the court. She was an eighth grade student at the private school when it was integrated and completely unaware of the still rampant segregation in her community. Ultimately, Green confronts her own ignorance. The book is a compellingly personal look at this dark period of history in Virginia.

Green described the lengths that some African American parents went to get education for their children, often requiring long separations,  sending them across the border to North Carolina or to relatives or even strangers in other counties. Most families, however, didn’t have the resources necessary to pay for travel and board.

…the vast majority of children stayed home and their only formal education would come in the form of church training centers. There, for a few hours a day, volunteers taught the kids basic skills. Many children simply played or, if they were old enough, went to work in the fields with their parents and pick tobacco. Some would never return to school. (Green, The Atlantic, 8/1/2015)

Green recommends visiting the Moton Museum in Farmville to learn more. Farmville had been the site of protests beginning with a student strike since 1951 and the former Robert Russa Moton High School, now a National Historic Landmark and museum, isthe student birthplace of America’s Civil Rights Revolution. Three-fourths of the Brown vs Board of Education participants came from the Moton student strike.

 

 

 

 

 

In Celebration of Guy Fawkes

January 25, 2019: As part of the #blogging28 challenge, I am updating this post to include another video suggested by the original inspiration for the post, Keith Reeves.

From The American President:

My friend and colleague, Keith Reeves, posted the V for Vendetta speech as a way to remember the Fifth of November, otherwise known as Guy Fawkes Day:

And it made me think of other great video speeches of resistance:

The opening speech from The Newsroom where Will McAvoy riffs on the question of why America is the greatest country in the world. (Hint: he doesn’t necessarily agree.)

Jedediah Bartlett’s biblical soliloquy  from The West Wing. I found this series belatedly and this was my first episode. I knew I had found my television home.

And, finally, just to show my age…the classic from Network..

I was just entering high school when this movie premiered, so it gives you a sense of why I may have a somewhat cynical world view.  Every so often, I fight the temptation to open my window and lean out…

Any others I’ve missed?

PAD #24, 25, 26: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I haven’t been home for a full weekend for several weeks and with a mostly caught up to do list, I decided to take a weekend off. What does that mean? I read Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire and crocheted while watching reruns of The West Wing. I cooked some good meals and baked scones. I meditated and did most of the laundry.

But now I am back at work a bit…it is Spring Break somewhere in the world, right? And I didn’t want to miss Opening Day. I do not have the passion for baseball that some of my friends do but I appreciate its calm cerebral pacing and would love to learn to fill out a score sheet. Perhaps a retirement plan?

For now, a few visual reminders of the nation’s pass time, discovered at the Digital Public Library of America. The collage is all public domain imagery including the sheet music.

Opening Day 2018

The two postcards are from the Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection at the Boston Public Library. I have a few old postcards but none as beautiful and evocative as these. And, they are listed as having no known copyright restrictions. Ebbets Field Yankee Stadium