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Black & White Photo Challenge, No. 1

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A few days ago, fellow Cornhusker, Gray Days & Coffee, invited me to participate in the Black & White Photo Challenge.  I’m not sure of the origin of this particular challenge, but I seem to be more productive with my camera (and my photography learning curve) when I have one.

So, (read in Barney Stinson’s voice) . . . challenge accepted!

I’m supposed to post one black & white photo each day for 5 days.  That seems manageable. But don’t be surprised if my days aren’t consecutive.  Each day, I’m also supposed to invite one other blogger to participate.  Today’s lucky invitee is my friend, Patty, over at Bota and the Beast, who loves a good photo challenge as much as I do!

Yesterday, it was a very un-Christmassy 55 degrees here in Virginia (and I’m not complaining), so the Mr. Armchair Sommelier and I decided to head out for a drive in the country.  We ended up in the little town of Marshall, Virginia at Schoolhouse No. 18.


The history teacher in me can’t just leave it at that.  History tangent, coming your way (if you’re not a history person, you can skip to the end).

The Virginia Constitution of 1869 (y-a-w-n, I know), passed during Reconstruction, called for a system of free public schools in Virginia.  Many of these early schools were identified by a number — Schoolhouse No. 18 is the only surviving one-room school house in Fauquier County. From 1887 (when it was built) until 1910, the building functioned as a school for white children only.  When a new school for whites opened in 1910, Schoolhouse No. 18 became a school for African American children.  It would remain so until 1964, when those students were moved to a new (but still very much segregated) elementary school.

If you just did the historical math and started scratching your head, you’re right.  In a shameful historical footnote, this is where I tell you that Fauquier County was among the very last counties in the state of Virginia to desegregate its schools.  (I believe rock bottom honors belong to my neighbor to the west, Culpeper County).  Complete desegregation didn’t happen here until 1969 — 15 years after the landmark Supreme Court Case, Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, outlawed segregation in public schools.

Virginia worked really hard to undermine the Brown decision.  I suppose The Supremes have to take part of the blame for releasing a decision that ordered desegregation “with all deliberate speed.”  Virginia interpreted that to mean “a week from never.”  Virginia pretty much said, “alright, we won’t segregate, but we won’t integrate, either.”  Virginia joined the subterfuge known as Freedom of Choice, which was a system embraced throughout the south, putting the burden of integration on individual students and not the local school boards.  (African American students could “choose” to attend an all-black school, or apply to attend an all-white school, with predictable results).  That system kept schools in Virginia effectively segregated until 1968, when The Supremes ruled in Green vs. New Kent County that all public schools were to desegregate under the following timetable:  Do it.  Do it now.

Alright.  History tangent over.  Just for fun, here’s the rest of my School House No. 18 study:

Until tomorrow(ish).


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