Hardy, VA - Booker T. Washington National Monument in partnership with the Franklin County Historical Society will host a lecture by Dr. Scot French, Associate Professor of History at University of Virginia and the Associate/Interim Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. The lecture will be held in the park visitor center on Sunday, November 18th at 2:00 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
As a scholar of slavery and race in 19th and 20th century America, Dr. French has conducted extensive research on Virginia’s dual system of public education from its origins in the Reconstruction Era through the eras of Jim Crow, Massive Resistance, and Civil Rights. In August 2002, Dr. French entered into a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service as the principal investigator and lead author of a Historic Resource Study focusing on the former Booker T. Washington Elementary School and its role in the era of racial segregation and desegregation in Virginia. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on May 17, 1954 that "separate but equal" was unconstitutional in the Brown v. Board of Education case, this segregated school in Franklin County, Virginia, opened four months later. The school was open from 1953-54 to 1966. This former school was acquired in 1973 by the National Park Service as part of a six-acre addition to Booker T. Washington National Monument.
Dr. French will discuss the property as part of Virginia’s campaign to maintain racially segregated public education. He will compare the former school with other Franklin County segregated elementary schools of that era and incorporate information based on archival research, interviews with school alumni and park employees, and scholarly literature relative to the study. Interrelated themes will be covered such as Virginia’s school equalization campaign of the late 1940s and 1950s; Booker T. Washington’s post-World War II legacy; and the school’s enduring value to alumni and other residents of Franklin County as a site of memory and source of community pride. The property has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.