Eighth grade cultural studies teacher Emily Marston was in Richmond, Virginia, last week taking part in a program called "The Long Road from Brown: School Desegregation in Virginia." The weeklong program, a Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop, is sponsored by Old Dominion University and Virginia Commonwealth University with support from The National Endowment for the Humanities.
The goal of the workshop was to provide middle and high school teachers with an understanding of the history of racial inequality in Virginia schools and the impact of resistance to school desegregation and its legacies. According to program developers, "Virginia provides a superb opportunity, a laboratory of sorts, to study the experiences and legacies of rural and urban communities reacting to Brown."
The field trips, central to each workshop, included visits to historic landmarks that tell the story of modern school desegregation. Emily interacted with scholars and with people who experienced the struggle for equality.
In addition to the wealth of information gained from lectures, field trips, and class discussions, this study was especially timely in understanding the context in which Harper Lee set Go Set a Watchman, a novel that explores massive resistance to Brown.
Emily and other summer scholars each developed lessons that will be submitted to EDSITEment, so that they may be accessed by teachers worldwide.
In the spring our 8th graders will study Brown vs Board of Education within the context of the integration of Little Rock Central High School. Emily's fellowship in "The Long Road from Brown" will bring added richness to the curriculum.