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First Baptist Church, Farmville, Prince Edward Co.

Founded in 1867, Farmville’s historically-black First Baptist Church acted under the leadership of Reverend L. Francis Griffin to desegregate Prince Edward County’s public schools, during the 1950s and 1960s. Within two weeks of a student strike that began in April 1951 at the all-black Robert Russa Moton High School, Rev. Griffin twice convened hundreds of students, parents, and local black leaders to First Baptist Church. There they agreed to support an NAACP lawsuit to desegregate county schools. That suit — filed on May 23, 1951, in federal court in Richmond as Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia — became one of five consolidated into the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court outlawing public school segregation. When Prince Edward County closed its public schools from September 1959 until 1964 to avoid integration, Rev. Griffin led efforts that got a privately funded and administered Free School Association opened in September 1963 to serve the county’s black students. After the Supreme Court ruled in May 1964 in Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County that the county’s schoolchildren must receive equal public school education, the county integrated its schools in September 1964.