Join us at Scrawl Books on Wednesday, March 8 at 6PM as we welcome P. O’Connell Pearson and Cainan Townsend! Patty and Cainan will be discussing WE ARE YOUR CHILDREN TOO, the strange case of Prince Edward County, Virginia, the only place in the United States to ever formally deny its citizens a public education, and the students who pushed back.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
P. O'Connell Pearson is a former history teacher with a master of education degree from George Mason University. She has contributed to and edited history textbooks and published articles in magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post. Always enthusiastic about sharing the stories of history, she earned her MFA in Writing for Young People from Lesley University and now writes both historical fiction and nonfiction. When she is not writing about history, she can often be found talking about history as a volunteer with the National Park Service in Washington, DC. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia.
Cainan Townsend is the Managing Director, of the Robert Russa Moton Museum, a National Historic Landmark. Cainan is a graduate of Prince Edward County Public Schools in Farmville, Virginia. Cainan leads the Moton Museum Education Team as they work to advance the museum’s mission in all parts of the commonwealth through active education and public program offerings.
Cainan served as a 2016 Governor’s fellow with the Virginia Secretary of Education in the administration of Governor Terrance McAuliffe. In November 2017 he was elected to serve on the Prince Edward County School Board. In January 2018 he was appointed to serve on the African American Cultural Resources Taskforce by Governor Terrance McAuliffe. In August 2019 he was appointed to the Commission for African American History Education by Governor Ralph S. Northam.
Cainan is the great-grandson of John Townsend a plaintiff from Brown vs. Board of Education, and his father is a member of the lost generation missing several years of his education by the closing of the Prince Edward County Public Schools from 1959-1964.
A Prince Edward County native, Cainan graduated from Longwood University with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies with a minor in Leadership Studies and with his Master of Science in Counselor Education.
ABOUT THE BOOK
This revelatory and gripping nonfiction middle grade book explores a deeply troubling chapter in American history that is still playing out today: the strange case of Prince Edward County, Virginia, the only place in the United States to ever formally deny its citizens a public education, and the students who pushed back.
In 1954, after the passing of Brown v. the Board of Education, the all-White school board of one county in south central Virginia made the decision to close its public schools rather than integrate. Those schools stayed closed for five years.
While the affluent White population of Prince Edward County built a private school—for White children only—Black children and their families had to find other ways to learn. Some Black children were home schooled by unemployed Black teachers. Some traveled thousands of miles away to live with relatives, friends, or even strangers. Some didn’t go to school at all.
But many stood up and became young activists, fighting for one of the rights America claims belongs to all: the right to learn.