Healing Historic Harms Through Research — Sharon Leslie Morgan

Bettie WARFE/GAVIN

Sharon Leslie Morgan moved to Noxubee County, Mississippi to research her ancestors’ history. Morgan’s great-great-grandmother, Betty Warfe Gavin, was enslaved there, and gave birth to 17 children. The father of all of them was Robert Louis Gavin, a white man and the nephew of her enslaver.

“My ancestors came from here and fled,” says Morgan. “For me to come back and reclaim memories, experiences, relationships, I think that is going to help with healing the historical harm of slavery.”

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Rewriting History

Brown v Board of Education

Betty Kilby was nine years old when the Supreme Court handed down the Brown versus Board of Education decision that declared segregation in schools illegal in 1954. Four years later, her father and the NAACP filed suit against the school board of Warren County, Virginia to allow Betty and other black plaintiffs the right to attend Warren County High School in their home town of Front Royal. At the time, WCHS was the only high school in the county. Only white children were allowed to attend. When a federal judge ordered the school board to comply with federal law, they responded by closing the school. Under Virginia law at that time, “the assignment or enrollment of any Negro pupil to a white school automatically forces that school to close.” Warren County High was the first of Virginia’s public schools to close during the “Massive Resistance” era.

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