Along Freedom Road: Hyde County, North Carolina, and the Fate of Black Schools in the South
David Cecelski chronicles one of the most sustained and successful protests of the civil rights movement--the 1968-69 school boycott in Hyde County, North Carolina. For an entire year, the county's black citizens refused to send their children to school in protest of a desegregation plan that required closing two historically black schools in their remote coastal community. Parents and students held nonviolent protests daily for five months, marched twice on the state capitol in Raleigh, and drove the Ku Klux Klan out of the county in a massive gunfight. The threatened closing of Hyde County's black schools collided with a rich and vibrant educational heritage that had helped to sustain the black community since Reconstruction. As other southern school boards routinely closed black schools and displaced their educational leaders, Hyde County blacks began to fear that school desegregation was undermining--rather than enhancing--this legacy. This book, then, is the story of one county's extraordinary struggle for civil rights, but at the same time it explores the fight for civil rights in all of eastern North Carolina and the dismantling of black education throughout the South.
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERCombining hard-hitting investigative journalism and a sweeping family narrative, this provocative true story reveals a little-known chapter of American history: the period after the Brown v. Board of Education decision when one Virginia school system refused to integrate.In the wake of the Supreme Court’s unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision, Virginia’s Prince Edward County refused to obey the law. Rather than desegregate, the county closed its public schools, locking and chaining the doors. The community’s white leaders quickly established a private academy, commandeering supplies from the shuttered public schools to use in their all-white classrooms. Meanwhile, black parents had few options: keep their kids at home, move across county lines, or send them to live with relatives in other states. For five years, the schools remained closed.Kristen Green, a longtime newspaper reporter, grew up in Farmville and attended Prince Edward Academy, which did not admit black students until 1986. In her journey to uncover what happened in her hometown before she was born, Green tells the stories of families divided by the school closures and of 1,700 black children denied an education. As she peels back the layers of this haunting period in our nation’s past, her own family’s role—no less complex and painful—comes to light.At once gripping, enlightening, and deeply moving, Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County is a dramatic chronicle that explores our troubled racial past and its reverberations today, and a timeless story about compassion, forgiveness, and the meaning of home.