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60 Prince Edward Negro Youths Stage First Protest March in Farmville



60 Prince Edward Negro Youths Stage First Protest March in Farmville


An article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch describing protests in Farmville over the right of free education.


Farmville (VA.)
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People


McLaughlin, Henry
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.)


60 Negro Youths March in Farmville
By Henry McLaughlin
Times-Dispatch news Bureau

Farmville, July 25- About 60 Prince Edward county Negro youths marched along Farmville streets Thursday for 1 ½ hours in a protest against “closed schools, delay in the courts and segregation in its totality.”
There were no arrests and no incidents.
The Rev. L. Francis Griffin, who is state NAACP president and pastor of the First Baptist Church here said demonstrations will continue daily for an indefinite period and that local Negro youths plan to sit-in at every segregated store in Farmville. A “selective-buying” campaign is being planned, he said.
After singing and praying briefly while standing in a circle near the First Baptist Church, the youths broke up into six groups about 12:30 p.m.
Nine Per Group
The grouped, each composed of about nine pickets spaced eight feet apart, marched on both sides of Main st. and in front of a shopping center just outside downtown Farmville.
After the picketing, the Negros again formed a circle near the Rev. Mr. Griffin’s church to sing, pray and chant, “Old Jim Crow had got to go.”
Three county ministers led the pickets – the Rev. Goodwin Douglas of Beulah AME Church in Farmville, the Rev. Richard Hale of the St. James AME Church in Prospect and the Rev. James S. Williams, pastor of Levi Baptist church in Levi.
Mr. Griffin and Ivanhoe Gaylord Donaldson of New York, a representative of the Student Nonviolent Co-ordination Committee (SNCC), moved among the pickets, handing our signs and issuing directions.
Most Were Local Persons
Mr. Griffin said virtually all the pickets were Prince Edward county residents.
Shoppers of all ages and both races moved through the picket lines to enter and leave stores. Almost 30 town, county and state policemen were on hand, but made no moves to interfere with the pickets.
Mr. Griffin later said he had reports of brief heckling of one of the groups of pickets by a few white youths, but he said the hecklers stopped of their own accord.
The Negro youths arrived in cars and after the demonstration left for a closed meeting. Mr. Griffin said a closed meeting also was planned for Thursday night in his church.
First Action of Kind
Thursday’s picketing marked the first full-scale “nonviolent action” by Negros in Prince Edward county, which has been the focal point of litigation of school segregation since 1951.
About 40 youths sat-in briefly at the College Shoppe restaurant here July 9th, and a handful of students from Hampton Institute staged uneventful sit-in attempts at several local stores in April.
Mr. Griffin said Thursday’s demonstration had long been planned by local Negro youths. County public schools have been closed since a federal court desegregation order in 1959, but about 400 Negroes have had no formal schooling during that time.
Local Negro teen-agers formed a youth council several weeks ago, Mr. Griffin said, because “they became displeased about people saying they were satisfied … with the situation. The wanted to do this themselves to prove that they are not happy and complacent.”
Three-Part Project
Mr. Griffin said the Negroes were protesting “closed schools, delay in the courts and segregation in its totality.”
He said the youths have prepared for demonstrations in workshops and that Donaldson, representing SNCC, had helped instruct them.
During the demonstration, one group of Negros who walked in front of the county courthouse, carried homemade signs.
The Rev. Mr. Douglas carried a sign which read “While the Fourth Circuit Court Continues to Wait, Education for Negro Children Suffocates.”
Another sign said, “Ask Mr. [W.W.] Vaughan [chairman of the county board of supervisors] Why the Schools Are Closed – He Will ‘Hem’ and ‘Haw’ and Decline to Disclose.”
Mr. Griffin told local police and Mayor William F. Watkins Jr. on Thursday morning that the pickets would march about noon.
County supervisors over the past two months have approved hiring of 60 extra deputy sheriffs for part-time duty, including Farmville town manager T. W. Bloomfield, town policemen and volunteer firemen. Two extra deputy sheriffs were hired for full-time duty. The Farmville town council had added several special policemen to the town force.
Mr. Griffin said Prince Edward youths hope to persuade county adults and Negros from surrounding not to buy merchandise in segregated Farmville stores.
“They feel it is general knowledge that Prince Edward Negroes spend proportionally more of their income than any other group in the county through their necessity to eat and be housed,” he said.
Cites Spending Power
“Combined with the adjacent counties their spending power enables the economy of the business community to survive.”
“They want to bring forcefully into open recognition the contribution made by Negros in Prince Edward and adjacent counties to the social and economic institutions here.”
“They believe if this [non-violent action is done effectively it should naturally and properly open equal employment opportunities on the basis of ability alone,” the state NAACP president said.
During Thursday’s picketing a few demonstrators handed our mimeographed leaflets listing about a score of local business concerns and urging county citizens not to “buy here until you can work where you spend your money.”
Mr. Griffin said he eventually will probably present a list of Negro demands to the Mayor Watkins and chairman Vaughan of the supervisors.

Original Format

Newspaper Clipping
2 pages


McLaughlin, Henry and Shaw, Stan, “60 Prince Edward Negro Youths Stage First Protest March in Farmville,” Queens College Civil Rights Archives, accessed June 30, 2022, http://archives.qc.cuny.edu/civilrights/items/show/180.