April 23, 2024 News & Press Releases

Honoring Barbara Johns Day

by DPVA Press

73 years ago today, Barbara Rose Johns led 450 students in a walkout to protest the egregious conditions at the segregated, all-Black Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, Va. Her determination for equality led her to NAACP lawyers Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill, who filed suit on behalf of the students against the school district to integrate the schools. Davis v. County School Board became one of the five cases consolidated into Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned the segregation of public schools in the United States.

“At the young age of 16, and early in the civil rights movement, Barbara Rose Johns became a fearless leader for Black civil rights not only in Virginia, but across the country. At this critical point in our democracy, we should look to Barbara as an example of how one brave person, even a teenager, can speak up and speak out to change the course of history. We must keep her inspirational story and legacy alive,” DPVA Chairwoman Susan Swecker said. “I look forward to the day that her legacy in fighting for civil rights in Virginia is preserved in the U.S. Capitol with a statue, replacing Robert E. Lee. There is no better leader than Barbara Johns to represent the values of our Commonwealth.”