Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, a Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle

Harper. Jun. 2015. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780062268679. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062268693. HIST
In what she calls a hybrid of nonfiction and memoir, newspaper reporter Green revisits the history and memories of her hometown, Farmville, in Virginia's Prince Edward County to recollect how its people experienced the battle over desegregating public schools after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education declared separate educational facilities to be unequal. After sketching the culture of Farmville in the advent of Brown, Green probes the decision's aftermath as the all-white school board stigmatized Prince Edward County by closing its public schools from 1959 to 1964 rather than integrating them. She traces the opening of Prince Edward Academy in 1960 (from which her parents and she would later graduate), as local white leaders established "whites only" private schools while essentially locking African Americans out of school. Mixing family, local, and oral history with personal realizations and reminiscences fitted into a national backdrop, Green describes the pains and hopes of people in one Southern town as they struggled with desegregation from the 1950s into the 21st century.
VERDICT Green's work brims with real-life detail from the journalist's eye and ear and joins the likes of Diane McWhorter's Carry Me Home in further developing the dimensions of the South's desegregation struggle—particularly from the perspective of white communities—for general readers and scholars of the late 20th-century civil rights movement.
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