The story of African-American schools in Louisa County reveals glimpses of a remarkable community, like reflections in the window panes of the few “The schools are filled, but children still come to see if they can be admitted. I have sixty-three pupils.”
Isabella Gibbon, Freedmen’s school teacher.
Charlottesville, 1866 remaining black schoolhouses scattered throughout the county. Gone now are most of the buildings. Gone, too, are all but a few generations of the students who attended these schools, for the county ended the segregation of its public school system in 1970.
Yet, the struggle to provide education for Louisa County’s African-American children is a story filled with hope for a better future. Hope drove the efforts of the first teachers who conducted schools for former slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War. Hope created schools in barns and log houses in the late 1800s, and raised funds through church leagues to build the new schools of the early 20th century. And it was hope that waited as federal and state authorities waged battles over the desegregation of Virginia’s public schools.
No story can be told better than through the words of those who lived it. Many of the pages that follow contain the narratives of students, teachers and supervisors of Louisa’s African-American schools. Thus their experience is recorded as they, themselves, would have history remember it.
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