Civil rights content from Brown Media Archives and UGA Libraries in the PBS series “The Future of America’s Past”

Title screen from the PBS program "The Future of America's Past"

On the May 17th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that ruled against segregation in public schools, we are pleased to report that civil rights content from the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection and the University of Georgia Libraries, available in the Civil Rights Digital Library and the Digital Library of Georgia were included in “School Interrupted,” an episode from the second season of the PBS series “The Future of America’s Past.”

This content includes:

  • footage from a WSB-TV newsfilm clip dated July 27, 1962, that includes scenes related to the closure of public schools and education for African Americans in Prince Edward County, Virginia. The WSB-TV collection consists of over 5 million feet of newsfilm from WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia, and coverage of national civil rights events, such as those in Prince Edward County, Virginia.

On May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court in the Brown v. Board of Education case ruled against segregation in public schools. That case included a case against segregated education that was brought against Prince Edward County in 1951. After the Brown ruling, Virginia state officials instituted a plan of “massive resistance” to court-ordered integration, passing laws to close integrated schools and provide tuition grants to displaced white students. After both state and federal courts overturned the school closing law in January 1959, governor J. Lindsay Almond called a special legislative session and announced the end to the state’s policy of massive resistance. That fall, leaders in Prince Edward County chose to close the public school system rather than allow integration. White citizens established the Prince Edward School Foundation as a private school system for the 1,500 white school children in the county. The 1,700 African American schoolchildren were left without educational opportunities in the county. Some were sent to live with relatives in other parts of Virginia and attend classes there, some began college early, and some accepted arrangements to attend school in other states; most remained out of school until the fall of 1964 when federal courts ordered Prince Edward County to reopen its public school system.

In the episode “School Interrupted,” the program highlights a student strike in Prince Edward County that followed the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. The program’s host, Ed Ayers, learns about the drama that unfolded through conversations with two of the student strikers. He discovers how black women activists defied the school closures by starting grassroots schools, and he meets an author whose grandfather helped start the whites-only “segregation academy” Prince Edward Academy. In a museum at the school that started it all, Ed Ayers talks with a descendant of strikers who inspires students today to take up the fight for justice.

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The Digital Library of Georgia has awarded Source Recognition Digital Certificates and Outstanding Use of the Digital Library of Georgia Resources Special Awards to history students participating in National History Day Georgia

The Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) partnered with Georgia Humanities to create the special awards designed to engage students in historical research using DLG resources and to recognize the best examples of student work. Source recognition digital certificates were awarded to students who incorporated primary sources found in DLG’s portals in their projects. DLG staff conferred the “Outstanding Use of the Digital Library of Georgia Resources” special award on exceptional junior and senior individual, as well as group projects.
The certificates were distributed after the National History Day Georgia 2020 held its virtual award ceremony on May 7.
Outstanding Use of Digital Library of Georgia Resources Special Award Winners include:
Junior  –  Individual Project Winner: Ava Monger for “Roy Barnes; Breaking Barriers to Change the State Flag” (Project ID # 11008).
Junior – Group Project Winners:  Lillian Harper, Destiny Butts, and Tai-Leea Jones for “That Very Rich Negress” (Project ID # 12001).
Senior– Individual Project Winner: Becky Dorminy for “Ivan Allen, Beacon of Change:  Breaking the Barriers of Segregation in the New South” (Project ID # 25007).
Senior – Group Project Winners: Brandon Leonard, Layla Burrell, Gabby King, and Jayden Jones for “Dividing a City ‘Too Busy to Hate’: Atlanta’s Own ‘Berlin Wall'” (Project ID # 24003).
About National History Day Georgia
 
National History Day (NHD) Georgia is a program of Georgia Humanities and LaGrange College. NHD encourages middle and high school students to engage more deeply in the historical process.
Over the course of the school year, students select a topic related to the year’s theme and develop their projects through extensive primary and secondary source research. The NHD theme for 2020 was Breaking Barriers in History.
Under the guidance of a sponsoring teacher, students choose both their subject matter and a vehicle to present their research within the following categories: documentary, exhibition, paper, performance, or website. NHD attracts thousands of participants each year.
Competitions occur at the regional, state, and national levels. The NHD Georgia State Contest host for 2020 was LaGrange College.
About Georgia Humanities
Founded in 1971, Georgia Humanities is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. We collaborate with others to preserve and promote the rich cultural stories, treasures, and values of our state and its people. Our work nurtures Georgians’ understanding of ourselves and of our state’s place in history and in the world, and it fosters thoughtful and engaged citizenship. Visit Georgia Humanities at georgiahumanities.org.
About the Digital Library of Georgia

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia is a GALILEO initiative that collaborates with Georgia’s libraries, archives, museums and other institutions of education and culture to provide access to key information resources on Georgia history, culture, and life. This primary mission is accomplished through the ongoing development, maintenance, and preservation of digital collections and online digital library resources. DLG also serves as Georgia’s service hub for the Digital Public Library of America and as the home of the Georgia Newspaper Project, the state’s historic newspaper microfilming project. Visit the DLG at dlg.usg.edu.

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