Barbara Johns: The Story Behind the Statue

Salem Museum Speaker Series

Virtual Event Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7 pm

Barbara Johns

A statue of Barbara Johns will soon be installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, joining George Washington in representing Virginia. Cameron Patterson, executive Director of the Robert Russa Moton Museum, will be the Salem Museum’s featured speaker on Thursday, Feb. 11 at 7 pm. He will share Johns’ story and the crucial role she played in bringing an end to segregated schools. This virtual talk is free, open to the public, and will be held via Zoom. The link will be posted on the Salem Museum’s web site on the day of the talk,

Before Selma, before Montgomery, young people made history in Farmville, Virginia. On April 23, 1951, Barbara Johns—a Black, 16 year-old high school girl—led her classmates in a strike to protest substandard conditions at their school, Robert Russa Moton High School in Prince Edward County. Two NAACP lawyers, Spottswood Robinson and Oliver Hill, took up the cause for more equitable conditions. Robinson and Hill filed suit—Davis v. Prince Edward—at the federal courthouse in Richmond. In 1954, the Farmville case became one of five that the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed in Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, when it declared segregation unconstitutional.

Cameron Patterson

Cameron Patterson is executive director of the Robert Russa Moton Museum (Moton), a National Historic Landmark that preserves and constructively interprets the history of Civil Rights in Education, specifically as it relates to Prince Edward County and the leading role its citizens played in America’s transition from segregation towards integration.

Before joining the Moton in 2017, Patterson worked in Student Affairs at Longwood University. He has served as a member of the Virginia African American Advisory Board and the State Board of Directors for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, and as Vice Chairman for the Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce, Vice Chairman for the Farmville Planning Commission, and Prince Edward Christmas Mother board member. A Lynchburg, VA, native, he graduated from Longwood University with a Bachelor of Science in History, and a Master’s in Counselor Education.