Students on Strike: Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Brown, and Me: A Memoir by John A. Stokes

It is the era of Jim Crow, and segregation is rearing its ugly head. From transportation to education even to drinking from water fountains, there is a division between blacks and whites; in other words, everything is separate.

John Stokes chronicles his experience of racism growing up in Kingsville, Virginia, which is located in Prince Edward County. Stokes focuses his attention on education because he and his sister, Carrie, “walk four and a half miles to attend school in Farmville, Virginia.” In contrast, white students ride the bus to a nearby school, a whites only school. The “separate but equal” law is not only in effect but also strictly enforced.

It is 1927, and Prince Edward County finally builds its first high school for black students. Robert Russa Moton School provides education for students in grades 8-12, and they walk to school until “their” bus service begins in 1939. Ironically, the school board opens another Robert Russa Moton School, and the first building becomes an elementary school. Sadly, the school is not large enough to educate over 180 students. “The white school board’s solution to this overcrowding was to add three wood-frame structures with tar-paper walls…it is heavy paper covered in tar that is used for waterproofing and wind proofing buildings. No brick, mortar, or wood covered the wall. Tar paper provided the only insulation.” (Stokes 50). Unfortunately, when it rains, more problems exist; the building leaks. “They are inadequately insulated. There are not toilet facilities in them. We have an enrollment of more than 450 students in a school that was set up for 180 students.’” (Stokes 51).

Fed up with Jim Crow Laws influencing their education, on April 23, 1951, students of Robert Russa Moton School decide to take a stand and fight the powers that be! These “good troublemakers” fight for equality in education in Prince Edward County, Virginia, more specifically, in Kingsville, Virginia. Due to the racism that exists and being tired of it, the students execute the “Manhattan Project.” Read about how these students fight the school board in search of a better educational system for black students.

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Forever Reading’s Rating = 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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