In 1938, the NAACP filed a petition on behalf of Aline Elizabeth Black with the Norfolk Board of Education for equal pay for black teachers. The petition was reproduced on November 5 in the Afro American and Richmond Planet.
In this keynote speech, delivered in August 1875 before a meeting of the Virginia Educational and Literary Association in Richmond, John Wesley Cromwell discusses the poor state of black education in Virginia. The address was published later that year as an Address on the Difficulties of the Colored Youth, In Obtaining an Education in the Virginias.
Charles C. Green et al. v. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia, was a 1968 United States Supreme Court decision that ordered school districts to abolish dual systems of education for black and white students, placing on them an “affirmative duty” to integrate their schools genuinely. The pressure for such a ruling had mounted in the years since the Court’s landmark decisions in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) and Brown II (1955), which had declared separate schools to be “inherently unequal” but did not define the process by which schools would be desegregated. Virginia officials had responded to Brown with the Massive Resistance movement, in some cases shutting down public schools rather than integrating them. Incremental desegregation occurred when federal courts forced those schools to reopen in 1959, although schools in Prince Edward County did not reopen until 1964. But in New Kent County, school board officials instituted bureaucratic delays while also placing the burden of desegregation on black families through a “freedom of choice” plan. Not until the Supreme Court struck down most “freedom of choice” plans in Green did Virginia school districts implement full desegregation.
The huskanaw was a rite of passage by which Virginia Indian boys became men. While such rituals were common among American Indian societies, the huskanaw was conducted by, among others, the Algonquian-speaking Powhatan Indians of Tsenacomoco, an alliance of twenty-eight to thirty-two petty tribes and chiefdoms centered around the James, Mattaponi, and Pamunkey rivers. Aligning it with various other religious rituals, they referred to the huskanaw as a sacrifice and told the Jamestown colonists that if they did not perform it their powerful god Okee would be angered and disrupt their hunting or cause natural disasters. Although the English colonists at first took this ceremony to be a literal sacrifice of boys, they quickly learned that the term was metaphorical. The word huskanaw refers to the youth of the initiates and to the fact that they were to be transformed into men.
Charles Cortez Abbott taught business at Harvard University (1923–1954) before becoming the first dean of the business school at the University of Virginia. Born in Kansas, Abbott was raised in New England and educated at Yale and Harvard. He published several books on business and finance before moving to Virginia, where he served as dean of what became known as the Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration from 1954 until 1972. Abbott built the program into the one of the outstanding business schools in the South. He retired to Connecticut and died in 1986.
Cornelia Storrs Adair served as president of the National Education Association (NEA), a teachers’ union, from 1927 to 1928, the first classroom teacher to be elected to that position. A native of West Virginia, she attended school in Richmond and began her teaching career there in 1904. She taught at various elementary schools, received a degree from the College of William and Mary (1923) and served as principal of Richmond’s Franklin Elementary School from 1931 until her retirement in 1954. In 1934, Adair became the first woman awarded William and Mary’s Alumni Medallion. Adair attributed her passion for education to her aunt of the same name, one of the pioneer public school teachers in Richmond. Always active in union work, Adair was a longtime member of the Virginia Education Association and the Teachers’ Co-operative Association. In addition to presiding over the NEA, she served as president of the National League of Teachers Associations (1919) and the National League of Classroom Teachers (1927). A traditionalist in the classroom, Adair supported universal education, arts education, and education for the physically disabled. Adair died in Charlottesville in 1962. The next year William and Mary opened the Cornelia Storrs Adair Gymnasium (later Adair Hall).
Lucy Addison was a teacher and elementary school principal in Roanoke who was largely responsible for bringing high school–level education to the city’s African Americans. Born enslaved in Fauquier County, she earned a teaching diploma in Philadelphia. Addison taught briefly in Loudoun County before moving to Roanoke in 1887. She served briefly as an interim principal at the city’s First Ward Colored School before resuming her regular teaching duties. In 1918 she became principal of the Harrison School. Although the school offered classes only up to grade eight, Addison campaigned for a secondary-school curriculum, steadily adding advanced classes. The State Board of Education accredited Harrison as a high school in 1924. Addison retired from the position after the 1926–1927 school year, and the city named the school after her in 1928. It was Roanoke’s first public building named after one of its own citizens. Addison, who never married, died in 1937 in Washington, D.C.
Ella G. Agnew was a prominent educator and social worker who advanced employment opportunities for women early in the 1900s long before there was a woman’s liberation movement. She served as the first president of the Virginia Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs and worked in the national office of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). During the Great Depression, Agnew directed women’s relief activities in Virginia.
Edwin Anderson Alderman was a noted educator, progressive reformer, and president of the University of North Carolina, Tulane University, and the University of Virginia, where he served as the school’s first president from 1904 until his death in 1931. He brought to the University of Virginia a zeal for progressive reform, having campaigned in North Carolina and Louisiana for increased spending on public education and the creation of teacher-training schools, especially for women. In Charlottesville, Alderman established the Curry Memorial School of Education in 1905 and reorganized the university to emphasize efficiency and promote professional and technical instruction. The number of faculty doubled by 1907 and the university became more integrated with the educational life of the rest of the state. Alderman supported creating a coordinate college for women at the university, and even though the General Assembly opposed the idea, the university began admitting women to its graduate and professional programs in 1918. Alderman was a prolific fund-raiser, a well-known orator, and a close advisor to U.S. president Woodrow Wilson. In 1938, the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia was dedicated in Alderman’s honor.