LAWRENCEVILLE - The former Oak Grove School in Brunswick County has become a new stop on the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail. A marker with photos and the history of the school has been installed at the site. The school is located next to Oak Grove Baptist Church, located at 22355 Christanna Highway, Lawrenceville. A dedication ceremony for the new marker will be held on Saturday, October 16, 2021 at 11 a.m. at the church. The public is invited to attend this event to recognize this important part of Brunswick County history.
The dedication will include a program inside the church with several speakers including, Reverend Harold Williams, Reverend Regina Williams, Delegate Roslyn Tyler, 75th District, Virginia General Assembly; Dr. Barbara Jarrett Harris, Chair, Brunswick County Board of Supervisors; Leslie Weddington, County Administrator; Beverley Hawthorne, Chair, Virginia Crossroads and former students, David Green, James Woodley, Marion Taylor.
Carla Martindale, Oak Grove Church, will preside over the day’s activities. After the program, the marker will be unveiled in front of the Oak Grove School building.
Oak Grove School was originally a one-room log building located on the grounds of Oak Grove Church. Between 1923 and 1924, for the sum of $ 3,000, a new three-room school was built on the same site. The school is an example of the many community schools created throughout the region and state to help educate and train African-Americans.
The Oak Grove School was a practical training school, which provided students with training in basic skills, trades, farming and home economics. Older students were responsible for helping teach material to the rest of the class. Later the school served as a segregated elementary school for the community.
The educational opportunities were supported by many in the community as well as James Solomon Russell founder of St. Paul’s Normal School, which was later known as Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville. Russell visited the school many times to offer support, encouragement and help.
The Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail® was established in 2004, and is owned and managed by Virginia’s Crossroads, a tourism marketing consortium comprised of the localities of Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Dinwiddie, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, and Prince Edward, and also includes the City of Petersburg and Greensville/Emporia, Virginia State Parks and Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.
Twelve new sites have been added to the trail’s original 41 locations, expanding the stories, which recount how African Americans, Native Americans and women fought for the right to equal education. Along with adding the new sites, all 41 original signs have been updated with newly uncovered information and photographs.
With the addition of the Oak Grove School, there are now five stops on the trail in Brunswick County. Those are Southside Virginia Community College, Fort Christanna, Saint Paul’s College/James Solomon Russell – Saint Paul’s College Museum, Hospital and School of the Good Shepherd and Oak Grove School.
For additional information on the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®, visit vacrossroads.com.