50 years since Griffin v County School Board of Prince Edward County

May 25, 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Griffin v County School Board of Prince Edward County, which provided a conclusion for the history I’ve been working on for The Unbound Project.

To commemorate the day, I am releasing a pdf version of UnboundYou can download the pdf here and read more about the letterpress version.

Read Professor Larissa Fergeson’s great op-ed about why this case matters: http://hamptonroads.com/2014/05/fergeson-case-opened-prince-edward-schools

The Free Schools Archive at VSU

I spent the day at the Free Schools Association archive at the historic black college VSU. Amidst the boxes of correspondences and receipts for supplies, I found that Neil Sullivan, the superintendent, methodically evaluated the effectiveness and culture of the Free Schools almost from the first day.  I found the survey given to teachers after the first month of school.

Continue reading The Free Schools Archive at VSU

Plessy v. Ferguson

Tonight, I remembered having to memorize the facts of Plessy v. Ferguson in high school for an American History exam. I remember at the time trying to memorize the name and significance: it declared that it was legal to have different public spaces for black and white people. In my head, because I was trying to pass the exam, the only space that I consciously thought about was a leisure train, which I had never been on at the time.  Continue reading Plessy v. Ferguson

The Farmville aquifer

I’m reading a book with great overview of the messy history of school integration : Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy by James T. Patterson. This book is making me think that the battles for integrated public schools are where this country became what it is today (and current public school battles still speak to larger issues in our community and culture… just check out what has happened in my current hometown of Tuscaloosa, AL in the last six months here  and now here )

But today is about weird Farmville and has nothing to do with all of that (maybe…).

The house I stay in is across the street from a recent mass-murder house. Find out more here.

Continue reading The Farmville aquifer


Farmville, VA is one those places where a lot has happened in a very small geographic area. It is possible to see the direct reactive effects of these things: from slavery to The Civil War to Jim Crow to Brown v Board of Education to Massive Resistance to desegregation to now. I wonder how having so much happen in such a small area can affect the general psyche of a place.

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Wille and Kahlil

I thought about these things as I drove to Virginia from Alabama: This project, like most things, is about storytelling.

We all have stories. We hold some inside and we tell some, repeatedly. You have to honor your own story; it is the only way to manifest yourself into the world. One of the reasons I love the South is because of the storytelling. Most Southerners want to tell you the Whole Story, and tell it well, without self-consciousness.

Continue reading Wille and Kahlil