By MEAGHAN MCINTYRE
On Monday, Sept. 19 University of Mary Washington alumna Kristen Green, the author of the freshman common read “Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County” gave a presentation in Dodd Auditorium. All members of the university community were able to attend the speech.
Green’s book “Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County” tells the truth of how the white leaders in the Virginia county ignored the Supreme Court ruling of Brown v. Board of Education. It was in this 1954 ruling that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were declared to be unconstitutional.
Then in 1959, when a Federal Court ordered the county to desegregate their public schools, the leaders of Prince Edward County closed them and created a private all-white academy. Green stated that approximately 1,700 kids in Farmville were shut out during the five-year span when the public schools were closed.
Freshmen received a copy of the common read at the summer orientation sessions and were expected to complete the reading by the time they moved onto campus. The common read is used to serve as the groundwork for an intellectual experience that started with discussions about the book within students Freshman Seminar courses and there are other scheduled events that will be taking place throughout the course of the semester.
The presentation that took place on Sept. 19 was one of the first public events relating to the common read and the issues that it called to attention, that has taken place this fall.
At her lecture, Green went into details about the research she completed, the history of the school closings and the emotional experience that she had throughout her work as she uncovered her grandfather’s role in creating the segregated Prince Edward Academy. In addition, there was also a question and answer session near the end of the talk.
The most fascinating part of Green’s talk was when she went into detail about the personal aspects and barriers she faced when writing the book.
“Writing this book was a way to learn and come to terms with the past,” Green said. Hearing how she had to push back against opposition who did not want the true story of the county’s history to be told was really inspirational to me. She showcased the importance of perseverance and is a great example as to why it matters to stand up for what you believe in.
Even if you missed Green’s discussion, there will be plenty of opportunities throughout this semester to get involved in academically stimulating and thought provoking events regarding the common read.
You can find a calendar of the events here.