Free School Classroom
Original Author: Richmond Times-Dispatch
Created: September 8, 1964
Medium: Photograph
Publisher: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Free School Classroom

On September 8, 1964, an unidentified teacher in Prince Edward County conducts class in a Free School, an educational facility established the previous year. While Virginia ended its statewide policy of Massive Resistance to school desegregation in 1959, school officials in Prince Edward County closed public schools rather than integrate them. While white students quickly moved into Prince Edward Academy—a new private school supported by state-approved tuition grants and donations from ardent segregationists—black students were left without any educational facilities. In 1963, nearly 2,000 black students of Prince Edward County were invited to return to formal classes through the assistance of the new, privately organized Prince Edward Free School Association, which leased three of the closed public school facilities for one year with the support of the Kennedy administration and private funds. During the 1963–1964 school year, about 1,500 students (including four white children) attended the Free Schools.