Students on Strike: Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Brown, and Me
Author: John A. Stokes
About the book
In 1951, a group of African-American high school students in Prince Edward County, VA, went on strike to protest the substandard conditions in their segregated school. They eventually became plaintiffs in a lawsuit that was one of the five that were part of the 1954 Brown decision. In 1959, Prince Edward County closed its schools rather than comply with desegregation orders, and deprived thousands of black students of an education until county schools reopened in 1964. Fear of retribution and lingering bitterness has kept the strike leaders silent, but Stokes, who was among them, has decided that the story of the strike and its aftermath needed to be told. He opens by describing how he and his family survived under the severe restrictions of the Jim Crow South. He then explains how the students’ desire for a more equal education motivated them to create and implement intricate strike plans and discusses how the local African-American community supported their efforts in spite of the “massive resistance” of white Virginians. Period black-and-white photos and maps are included. Stokes’s inspiring story reveals an almost completely unreported part of one of the most important court cases of the 20th century, and it will hold the interest of researchers and readers, making this an important choice for all collections.