Pioneers of Virginia’s Civil Rights Struggle Share their Story with Rotarians and High School Students

On April 15th, the Rotary Club of Rockingham County was honored to host three former students from the RR Moton High School who were part of a student-led strike that eventually became part of the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mrs. Joy Cabarrus Speakes, Rev. J. Samuel Williams, and Mrs. Joan Johns Cobbs (younger sister of 16 year old strike leader, the late Barbara Johns) joined R.R. Moton Museum Executive Director Lacy Ward, Jr. (a Past President of the Farmville Rotary Club) for breakfast and a presentation about the Museum.  District Governor Ron Mabry, Past District Governor Abe Clyburn, District Governor Nominee Designate Chris Runion, and visiting Rotarians from other Clubs were also on hand.
The group then traveled to Rockingham County high schools, where close to 1,000 juniors had the opportunity to hear from the civil rights leaders first-hand.  Both students and teachers were moved by their commitment and passion in spite of the dangers such a protest spurred; they noted that the Farmville case was the only one in Brown v. Board that involved high school students, and the only one in which the students themselves were the plaintiffs.  They thanked their teachers, and their parents, for supporting their efforts, and exhorted the future leaders before them to have tolerance for other viewpoints, and courage to change the world to right inequities and wrongs.
The high school assemblies were made possible due to the generosity of a grant from the Rockingham Educational Foundation (REFI) though the generous support of Union First Bank, and in partnership with the Rotary Club of Rockingham County and the Harrisonburg Holiday Inn.