History is often personal. But sometimes, it can be too personal.
Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County: A Family, a Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle, by Kristen Green is a very interesting view of American history.
Born and raised in Prince Edward County, Virginia, Ms. Green attended an all white school as a child. The only African-Americans that she came across were the household help. It was only when she left her hometown to attend college and find a job did she come to know people of other races. A journalist by profession, Ms. Green began to dig into the history of her town.
She discovered that American history did not extend farther than her own family.
In the wake of Brown Vs. Board Of Education (1954), the elders of Prince Edward County rebelled against the ruling in the best way that they knew how. All public schools were closed. White children whose parents made enough money were lucky enough to attend the private school established specifically to keep black children out. Black children and white children whose parents were on the lower end of the economic scale were forced to find other educational avenues for their children. In her research, Ms. Green came to discover that her grandfather was one of the men responsible for the establishment of the all white school.
I found this book to be riveting. Ms. Green mixes known history with interviews from people who lived through the era (including members of her own family) as well as clips from newspapers and official documents. In the end, Ms. Green makes peace with the past, but she also speaks of the potential that was lost when the public schools were closed. It is a lesson to be well learned.
I highly recommend it.