About the Committee

Purpose

This Committee administers the Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Program created by the Virginia General Assembly in 2004 as a result of the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown decision. The legislative Committee, composed of members of the Virginia House of Delegates, the Senate of Virginia, and nonlegislative citizen members appointed by the Governor, is responsible for selecting eligible domiciled residents of Virginia for awards each year to attend approved educational programs in the Commonwealth. Eligible Virginians are persons who were unable to attend public school between 1954 and 1964 due to the closing of public schools in certain localities to avoid desegregation (Massive Resistance).

The Historical Setting of the Scholarship Program

State laws before the American Civil War prohibited the education of African Americans, and the majority of African Americans that learned to read did so illegally. After Reconstruction, a system of laws, known as "Jim Crow laws," were enacted to continue the rigid system of segregation that pervaded every area of society, including public accommodations, schools, housing, employment, restaurants, religious affiliations, health care services, criminal justice system, and transportation. This separation of the races was upheld under the doctrine of "separate but equal," by the United States Supreme Court in 1896 in Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U.S. 537). It was an era in which a set of unwritten social rules was imposed, requiring African Americans to be deferential to whites at all times. Beginning in 1915, a series of decisions questioning the constitutionality of segregation in institutions of higher education were heard in state and federal courts. Until this time, the doctrine of "separate but equal" had remained unchallenged for nearly 50 years.

Brown v. Board of Education: Virginia's Role

Throughout the Commonwealth, school conditions for African American students, including curricula, textbooks and equipment, bus transportation, and school buildings were grossly inferior to the public education afforded white students. One example was Robert Russa Moton High School in Prince Edward County, Virginia, built in 1939 for Black children. The school was inadequate and overcrowded from the start. Unlike Farmville High School, which white students attended, Moton had no gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium with fixed seats, locker rooms, or infirmary. As the enrollment at the school continued to grow, the county built temporary "tarpaper shacks"—outbuildings made of wood, covered in tarpaper, and heated with a single stove—which were invariably leaky and chilly.

Parents, students, and PTA members were greatly disturbed by the inequities in public education and the gross inadequacies at Moton School, and tried to work through the all-white school board to bring about change. However, the school board was extremely unresponsive to their request for a new school and other improvements. Frustrated by the lack of progress and angry at the disparity between high schools for African American and white students, on April 23, 1951, students at the Robert Russa Moton High School, led by Barbara Johns and John and Carrie Stokes, staged a strike. Students either remained on school grounds and carried picket signs, or sat at their desks with books unopened, not participating in lessons, while the strike committee sought to meet with the Prince Edward County school superintendent and other officials. Those meetings were futile. The students also asked to meet with NAACP lawyers from Richmond. The student-led strike resulted in the case known as Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, one of five cases consolidated as Brown v. Board of Education that challenged the doctrine of "separate but equal" as unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The facts in the Virginia case provided the inspiration and legal basis upon which Brown v. Board of Education was argued before the Supreme Court.

Fifty-nine years ago on May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, that the "separate but equal" doctrine adopted in Plessy v. Ferguson was unconstitutional. This historic decision struck the death blow that ended the era of Jim Crow and legally sanctioned segregation throughout American society. However, states were slow to desegregate public schools. Due to state resistance, the Supreme Court set guidelines for dismantling segregation without deadlines in a separate decision in 1955, known as Brown II, which contained the famous phrase "with all deliberate speed."

Virginia's Response

Despite the Supreme Court ruling in Brown that school segregation was unconstitutional, public schools in Virginia did not immediately begin to desegregate. In fact, all levels of government demonstrated intense resistance to compliance with the Brown decision, as the Commonwealth exhausted every possible means to avoid desegregation. The resistance lasted 10 years, during which time schools were closed in Charlottesville, Norfolk, Prince Edward County, and Warren County for various periods of time, and military enforcement of the law to desegregate schools that did stay open was necessary. In Arlington, state public education funds were rescinded because public schools did not remain segregated. However, Prince Edward County was the only jurisdiction that closed its public schools for five years. Thousands of African American students and hundreds of white students were denied education and could not graduate. In other parts of the Commonwealth, African American students—and there were very few—attending white schools were harassed, threatened, isolated, humiliated, and treated with contempt.

In 1964, the United States Supreme Court found in Griffin v. School Board of Prince Edward County, 377 U.S. 218 (1964), that "closing the Prince Edward County schools while public schools in all the other counties of Virginia were being maintained denied the petitioners and the class of Negro students they represent the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment" and called for "quick and effective relief" to "put an end to the racial discrimination practiced against these petitioners under authority of the Virginia laws." The plaintiff in Griffin, a school age child, won for school children throughout the nation the right to an education when this right has been established in state constitutions. Notwithstanding the dismantling of the legal infrastructure and formal end of Virginia’s Massive Resistance, desegregation cases continued to be heard in federal courts in Virginia until 1984. The last Virginia desegregation case was finally dismissed in 2001. In 2003, the General Assembly of Virginia passed a resolution expressing profound regret over the closing of the Prince Edward public schools. In 2004, Virginia commemorated with the nation the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. In addition to several other related measures designed to seize and maximize Virginia’s Redemptive Moment, the 2004 General Assembly established the Brown v. Board of Education Scholarship Program and Fund for the education of persons throughout the Commonwealth who were affected by the school closings.

The first class of Brown v. Board of Education scholars who graduated from Saint Paul's College.
Brown Scholars 2005-2011

Committee Members

Legislative Members

Citizen Members

Counseling and Technical Advisory Subcommittee

Staff

  • Ms. Lily Jones, Research Associate
  • Mrs. Gwendolyn Foley, Senior Operations Staff Assistant
  • Division of Legislative Services
  • Pocahontas Building, 8th Floor
  • 900 E. Main Street
  • Richmond, VA 23219
  • (804) 968-1810—phone
  • (804) 698-1899—fax
  • ljones@dls.virginia.gov
  • Mr. D. Hobie Lehman, Assistant Coordinator of Committee Operations and Sergeant-at-Arms
  • Office of the Senate Clerk
  • General Assembly Building, 2nd Floor
  • 201 North Ninth Street
  • Richmond, VA 23219
  • (804) 698-7450
  • hlehman@senate.virginia.gov
  • Mr. Lee Andes, Assistant Director for Financial Aid
  • State Council of Higher Education
  • James Monroe Building
  • 101 N. 14th Street
  • Richmond, VA 23219
  • (804) 225-2614
  • leeandes@schev.edu
  • (Technical Assistance)

Meetings

Committee Meetings

The General Assembly does not prepare or provide minutes of Committee or Commission meetings. However, summaries of meetings are prepared by the staff of the Division of Legislative Services for legislative meetings that are held each month. Although the Brown Scholarship Committee does not meet monthly, please search the DLS meeting summaries for each year to determine the Brown Scholarship Committee meeting summaries of interest to you.

Date Time Location Documents
08/03/2016 11:30 am Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
08/27/2015 1:00 pm Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg
(No meeting held due to lack of a quorum)
Agenda
08/15/2014 1:30 pm House Room C, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
12/19/2013 2:00 pm House Room C, General Assembly Bldg Agenda
07/15/2013 1:30 pm 5th fl. West Conference Room, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
06/19/2013 2:00 pm Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
Materials
08/22/2012 2:00 pm House Room C, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
Materials
06/19/2011 10:00 am Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
07/20/2011 10:00 am Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
10/20/2010 2:00 pm 3rd Floor Conference Room, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
09/22/2010 10:00 am Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda
06/08/2010 2:00 pm Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
12/08/2009 2:00 pm Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
06/19/2009 10:30 am Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
05/13/2009 10:00 am Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
12/15/2008 2:00 pm Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
09/19/2008 1:00 pm Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
08/04/2008 10:00 am Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
06/25/2008 1:00 pm Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
01/07/2008 10:00 am Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
11/09/2007 10:00 am John Tyler Community College, Bird Hall, Room B116, Chester, VA Agenda  
11/07/2007 6:00 pm Longwood University, Hall Auditorium, Room 132, Farmville, VA Agenda  
11/01/2007 10:00 pm Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda     Summary
10/01/2007 1:30 pm 3rd Floor East Conference Room, General Assembly Bldg Agenda     Summary
07/10/2007 10:00 am Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda     Summary
05/16/2007 10:00 am Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda     Summary
11/08/2006 6:00 pm Robert Russa Moton Museum, 900 Griffin Blvd, Farmville, VA Agenda  
11/02/2006 9:00 am Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
09/22/2006 9:00 am 3rd Floor East Conference Room, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
08/10/2006 10:00 am Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
10/12/2005 10:00 am Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
07/13/2005 10:00 am Senate Room B, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  
06/01/2005     Summary  
05/25/2005 10:00 am Senate Room A, General Assembly Bldg Agenda  

Reports

All reports are in pdf format

Annual Executive Summary

  2010 Report

Fiscal Status

06/08/2010 Fiscal Status Report
09/01/2010 Fiscal Status Report
07/20/2011 Fiscal Status Report
06/19/2013 Fiscal Status Report
12/13/2013 Fiscal Status Report
08/15/2014 Fiscal Status Report
08/27/2015 Fiscal Status Report
08/07/2016 Fiscal Status Report

Staffing Reports

08/22/2012 Staff Report