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November 16, 1946
Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

November 16, 1946

Guest post by Natalia Chaney, undergraduate student at University of Richmond.

The article “Manassas School gets $75,000,” was published in the Norfolk Journal and Guide on November 16, 1946. This article discusses how the Manassas Regional School received $75,000 “from the Governor’s capital outlay vocational education fund for the vocational department of the school.” The money was to be used for the construction of a shop building, creation of a girl’s dormitory, and for the construction or renovation of an auditorium and gymnasium. Superintendent Worth Peters made clear the importance of providing black students with educational facilities because of the scattered black population in the area.

Considering this article was written in 1946, what interested me was the level of concern Superintendent Peters had for the black community. He stressed the importance that educational facilities be provided for them by the use of this money. However, it could be implied, due to “separate but equal” educational facilities, that these facilities provided would be segregated from whites’ facilities. In Benjamin P. Campbell’s chapter “Developing Structures of Segregation,” he states, “Although Virginia had committed itself to public education in 1870, the schools were always segregated by race and there was neither public policy nor intention that the black and white schools would be equal in quality.”152 Although the article portrays Superintendent Peters as a man who cares for the well-being of black students, it is implied that he wants separate educational facilities for them. Campbell also states, “Often, there was not enough space in the cramped Negro schools. One year, Richmond simply did not enroll two hundred black students because there was no room. Before 1933 the Richmond School Board refused to hire black principals in black schools.”153

While written just over ten years after these events took place, the Norfolk Journal and Guide article was written in a time of continued segregation. Campbell states, “Virginia’s segregation of graduate schools lasted into the second half of the twentieth century.”154 This racism can be seen in Richmond neighborhoods as well. Campbell mentions, “The Federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (1975) and Community Reinvestment Act (1977) officially reversed the discriminatory policies, but they persisted locally.”155 This was over thirty years after Superintendent Peters’ statements were cited by the newspapers, stating that he wanted to provide educational facilities for black students.