Desegregation: Prince Edward County, Va.
Abeaten and exhausted Confederacy fought its last battles in Prince Edward County in southern Virginia’s Black Belt. Ninety years later Prince Edward County became the defendant in one of the five cases on which the United States Supreme Court based its already historic decision outlawing segregated education in the public schools.
It is an old agricultural county, located in a pleasant region of low hills and fertile valleys, to which settlers from the Jamestown Colony came during the first half of the 18th century. The Appomattox, which forms the boundary between Prince Edward and Cumberland County on the north, was once deep enough to float the bateaux that transported the Colonial planters’ tobacco and wheat to tidewater; today that sluggish and meandering stream is hopelessly clogged by the silt from eroded hillside tobacco farms, many of which have been wisely returned to pasture or forest.
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