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The Road to Healing: A Civil Rights Reparations Story in Prince Edward County, Virginia

Ken Woodley

Sunday, 29 September 2019, 2PM

This is the story of massive resistance in Prince Edward County Virginia, and reparations won in its wake. In 1959, in an act of massive resistance to the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, public schools in Prince Edward County Virginia closed rather than admit black students. While white students continued their education in private schools, black students were left without a formal education for five years until schools were finally forced to integrate. A local newspaper, the family-owned The Farmville Herald, led the 1959 fight to close the schools rather than integrate them. The Road to Healing: A Civil Rights Reparations Story in Prince Edward County, Virginia by retired Herald editor Ken Woodley is his first-person account of efforts to heal the wound experienced by the African American community. The Road to Healing centers on Woodley’s efforts, finally realized in 2004, to establish reparations in the form of state-funded scholarships for African American students. Julian Bond called this the first Civil Rights-era reparation in US history. Filled with political twists and turns, the story follows Woodley’s advocacy in the form of newspaper columns, written for the very paper that had advocated the closures, and in personal dialogue with elected officials, philanthropists, and power brokers at the local, state, and national levels. Through his unceasing efforts, the conscience of the community was awakened to understand the extent of the injustices of the past, and to unite in making amends.

Ken Woodley was a journalist for 36 years at The Farmville Herald, the final 24 years as editor. In 2006, the Society of Professional Journalists, Virginia Pro Chapter, presented Woodley with its prestigious George Mason Award for lasting contributions to journalism.