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New York Teachers Instruct Virgina Negros



New York Teachers Instruct Virgina Negros


A New York Times article describing the Student Help Project in Farmville, Virginia.


Queens College (New York, NY)
Student Help Project
Prince Edward Country (Va.)


Franklin, Ben A.
Shaw, Stan




Queens College Department of Special Collections and Archives (New York, N.Y.)



Date Created



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Spatial Coverage

Prince Edward County (VA.)


The New York Times, Thursday August 1, 1963.
New York Teachers Instruct Virginia Negroes

The "A" train doesn't stop here, but at 8:30 these hot summer mornings the sidewalk in front of the Beulah African Methodist Episcopal Church in Farmville IS crowded with New Yorkers accustomed to traveling by subway.
They might have climbed out of a kiosk, if there was one, at Main Street and Fourth. At the curb stands a white man wearing a beard and carrying a shopping bag. Next to him is a handsome Negro woman with one arm full of books and another loaded with pink flannel boards, used as teaching aids.
Across the street, behind the black cast-iron fence of the old First Baptist Church, stands a bevy of coeds from Flushing, one of them a tall, striking Negro.
The simple act of being together, black and white, is alien to Farmville, which barred Negroes from most of its white churches last Sunday. But the platters in this daily anti-antebellum scene clearly are aliens in the land of massive segregation for another reason. They came here to accomplish something that white Virginians could or would not do.
They came as volunteer teachers in a joint program of remedial education sponsored by a group of Queens College students and members of Local 2 of the American Federation of Teachers, known in New York as the United Federation, the U.F.T.
The came early in July – at a sacrifice of income from summer teaching jobs in New York – to provide a therapeutic ration of basic education for some of the 1,700 Prince Edward County Negro children who have been locked out of their schools for four years by the white authorities.
All public schools were closed here in the summer of 1959 as a maneuver designed to thwart a Federal Court order admitting Negros to the white high school that fall. White children were quickly enrolled in a “private academy,” whose segregation was unassailable by the courts.
In what The Farmville Herald this week described as a matter of “constitutional principles” too important to the “sacrificed on the altar of expediency,” a generation of Negro children has been growing up here without education. This summer there are 10-year-olds here eagerly studying a kindergarten curriculum.
Torn Apart Emotionally
“At the emotional level,” a serious Queens College sophomore said “it’s tearing us apart. But these kids are so bright and so eager to learn—and the need to learn so much – that we don’t have time to feel discouraged for the.”
Rosalind Silverman, a dark-eyed, 20-year-old Queens College junior, said that “you want to set your goals so high for them, and you discover that you have no foundation.”
In the strange light filtering through the pink and blue stained-glass windows of the Beulah A.M.E. Church, Miss Silverman struggled patiently yesterday attaching squares of paper to a flannel board. A cloth covered surface. For 15 minutes she tried without consistent success to make and 11-uear-old Negro girl understand that “three 2’s make 6.”
The morning “shape-up” of the 18 professional teachers in the U.T.F. contingent and the 13 Queens College students who assist them no longer attracts much attention in Farmville.
The 31 teachers live with Negro families in the town. The assembly on Main Street is to assign them to car pools that take there to Southern rural centers in the county where summer school begins at 9 A.M. and lasts four hours.
Of the teachers union volunteers, eight are Negroes. All are specialists in the education of disturbed and retarded children.
Edward F. Carpenter, a 40-year-old vocational guidance counselor at Junior High School 139 on West 140th Street, runs a teachers union-Queens College center at Prospect Virginia, one of the schools at an outlying crossroads.
On a dusty slope before the cinderblock Prospect Church, Mr. Carpenter assembled his share of the center’s 123 pupils for the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Then he marched them -- “boys first today”—into the dark basement of the church.
The 27 students faced each other in battered pews drawn up at a long, oilcloth-covered table. Motioning with his head and hand to pretend that he had lost his voice, Mr. Carpenter held up some simple flash cards bearing simple words such as “road,” “seen,” and “was.”
Mr. Carpenter, a Negro who had wide experience with “special children” in New York City, said he was using kindergarten materials almost exclusively.
The children in his school ranged from 4 to 19 years of age, he said, with an educational level averaging about the third year. Of his 123 students, more than half have had only two years of school. Many of the rest have had no school whatever.
“They don’t know how to listen because they have not had the usual kindergarten experience,” Mr. Carpenter said. “But there is almost an obsession to learn.”
During the half hour recreation period at noon, the children are being taught how to play. “They say all children know how to play,” Mr. Carpenter said. “This is not true. We are now playing softball – with the rules – for the first time and they are learning how to accept striking out and letting others win.”
Led by Stanley F. Shaw, a 20-year-old sophomore from Cambria heights, Queens who is teaching at the Levi Baptist Church here this summer, the Queens students conducted a “basic training” operation last winter in preparation for the Virginia trip.
They ran – and are still running – an experimental tutorial program among deprived children in South Jamaica, Queens. The also managed to raise more than $7,000 for the summer program here through benefits on the campus.
The union groups had hoped to raise $15,000, according to Richard Parrish, assistant treasurer of the union, who is a teacher at P.S. 70 in the Bronx. Mr. Parrish, who has been in charge of the Prince Edward County program, said a late report from the union headquarters, at 300 Park Avenue South, showed that the union fund had not yet reached its goal.
The rules of both groups forbid disbursements to members except for transportation, food and lodging.

Original Format

Newspaper clipping


Franklin, Ben A. and Shaw, Stan, “New York Teachers Instruct Virgina Negros,” Queens College Civil Rights Archives, accessed June 30, 2022, http://archives.qc.cuny.edu/civilrights/items/show/179.