Davis v. County of Prince Edward
Everett M. Watkins
ED8111 - The Historical and Social Foundations of Education
U10a1 Case Study
December 17, 2010
In 1954 the United States Supreme Court heard the school segregation case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The unanimous decision, delivered by Chief Justice Earl Warren, overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of “separate but equal” by Chief Justice Melville Fuller in 1898. This decision was to have a greater impact on Virginia’s public education than any event since Reconstruction.
The Brown decision brought an immediate response from the state of Virginia. Outraged Caucasians moved quickly to resist the court order. For five years, Virginia Leaders exhausted every legal avenue of resistance available to them. In the end, it was Governor Lindsay Almond who had the lonely task of standing before a special session of the General Assembly (Virginia’s legislative branch) asking to end the state’s resistance.
Prince Edward County was the site of a student strike in 1951. Robert R. Moton, an African American high school students struck for facilities equal to those of Caucasian students, a simple demand, but the case was not to remain so simple. Lawyers for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) agreed to represent the striking students if the suit were modified to challenge the constitutionality of Virginia’s segregation laws. The students agreed.
Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edwards was entered in Richmond’s United States District Court in 1952. The county won; state law won. According to the court, the conduct of the county in failing to provide equal facilities and not the law which needed to be corrected, the county needed to improve the schools. Nevertheless, the students persisted.
The Walk Out
The trouble began at Robert R. Moton High School. According to the Farmville Herald, on April 23, 1951, 450...