In 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that state laws permitting racial segregation in public schools were unconstitutional. The court ordered the immediate integration of all public schools, ending the nearly sixty-year old practice of providing so-called “separate but equal” facilities for students of different races.
In some areas of the country, however, court-ordered school integration was met with strong resistance at the state and local government levels (as well as elements of the white population); the process of desegregating public schools was neither swift nor universal.
To circumvent complying with the new law, Virginia adopted a policy known as “Massive Resistance,” under which the state legislature passed a series of laws that permitted the outright closure of its public schools. Among the provisions were measures that abolished mandatory school attendance for students and established a system of state-funded tuition grants allowing white families to send their children to new segregated private schools.
In 1959, the officials of Prince Edward County, Virginia, stopped all funding for public education, effectively closing the public schools rather than desegregate them. The schools remained closed until 1964. While families of many white students were able to send their children to the new private “segregation academies,” 1,700 children of African-American and less affluent white families had few options for formal schooling.
The Virginia Student Help Project was founded by students and faculty at Queens College in 1963 as an offshoot of the established Jamaica Student Help Project, which provided tutoring services to students in Jamaica, New York. Under the direction of faculty members Dr. Rachel Weddington and Dr. Sidney Simon, sixteen Queens College students spent six weeks in Farmville, the Prince Edward County seat, providing instruction to all children denied access to public education.
Rosalind Andrews (then Rosalind Silverman) was born in 1943 and grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens. She graduated from Bryant High School and, in 1960, began attending Queens College night classes while working full-time. A year later, she matriculated as a full-time Queens College student.
As a Queens College student, Andrews became involved in the Student Help Project, which provided tutoring services to school children in Jamaica, Queens, New York, and Prince Edward County, Virginia. She was also involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement and attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. In 1965, she graduated with a major in History and a minor in Education.
At age twenty-two, Andrews lived in India for nine months with her husband who had received a Fulbright Fellowship to study there. Upon her return to the United States, she taught history for three years at Long Island City High School in Queens.
Andrews then moved to Washington, D.C. and obtained her Master’s degree in Psychology from Catholic University in 1972. She became a United States probation officer, supervising people convicted of federal crimes, writing pre-sentencing reports, and making recommendations for sentencing. She was only the fifth woman to be promoted to Supervising U.S. Probation Officer.
After spending two years at the Administrative Office of the Federal Courts as a Programs Specialist, she became the Chief U.S. Probation Officer for the Eastern District of Tennessee. At the time, she was only the second woman to be appointed as a Chief. During her tenure, Andrews received the Director's Award for Outstanding Leadership.
Andrews retired from her career as a probation officer in 2000; since then she has been working as a mitigation specialist on death penalty cases.
The Rosalind Andrews Collection documents her experience as a volunteer teacher with the Student Help Project in Farmville, Virginia, through manuscript, print, near-print, and photographic materials. Included are personal correspondence, letters from students, letters of support, and newspaper clippings as well as an example of classroom work, a flier, and a photograph. The collection provides a personal perspective on the work of the volunteer teachers and demonstrates the impact they had on the students of Farmville.
Collection is open for research. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition.
The Rosalind Andrews Collection is only physically owned by the Queens College Libraries. Intellectual rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assignees. Queens College assumes no responsibility for the infringement of copyrights held by the original authors, creators, or producers of materials.
Andrews, Rosalind (Silverman)
Civil rights movements -- Virginia -- Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County (V.A.) -- History
Segregation in education -- Virginia -- Prince Edward County
Item, date (if known), box, folder, Rosalind Andrews (Silverman) Collection, Department of Special Collections and Archives, Queens College, City University of New York.
Donated by Rosalind Andrews in 2009. Andrews notes that her parents, Jeanette and Robert Silverman, were incredibly supportive of her decision to volunteer in Virginia in 1963, and that Jeanette saved these materials over the years.