$10 Million Given to Va. School To Erase Stigma of Segregation
An Atlanta multimillionaire has given a former "segregation academy'' in southern Virginia $10 million and urged it to overcome its legacy of racial exclusion.
J.B. Fuqua, who was raised on a tobacco farm near Farmville, Va., where the Prince Edward Academy is located, announced last month that "a significant amount'' of his donation to the school was earmarked for minority scholarships.
Mr. Fuqua, 76, said in an interview that his primary goal in offering the donation was "to enable more minorities to come to this school'' and to help erase the stigma of its segregationist past.
The surrounding community remains racially divided, he told reporters at a news conference, adding that he hoped his donation "will act as a catalyst to bring people together.''
Mr. Fuqua said he envisioned the 600-student school becoming "the finest rural school in the nation.'' He also noted that he expected the school to work with the Prince Edward County public schools and nearby colleges to make the entire community of Farmville a model for rural education.
The academy has been renamed the Fuqua School and has changed its logo and mascot. The school plans to use some of the donation to build a new science laboratory and to give every student access to computers.
Prince Edward Academy was created amid the movement in Virginia during the 1950's for "massive resistance'' to school desegregation. It was organized in 1959 as a private school for white children after the Prince Edward County board of supervisors voted to close the county's public schools rather than desegregate them.
The county schools remained closed until 1963. During that time most white children attended the private academy, where they had access to the former public school system's teachers and supplies. Most of the county's black children, on the other hand, had no schools at all.
"I was so upset about closing the public schools that I didn't contribute a nickel'' to the academy as long as it remained all white, Mr. Fuqua said.
The academy has accepted some black students in recent years, following a temporary loss of tax-exempt status in the 1980's.
Mr. Fuqua, who made a fortune in broadcasting and as the founder of a conglomerate, first donated to the school about three years ago after hearing it was in danger of closing.