Richmond County Museum

- 1964 -


The Civil Rights Act, adopted on July 2, 1964, ended segregation in public places, federally funded programs and banned discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. In addition, the act strengthened the enforcement of voting rights and the desegregation of schools.
In April 1965, Richmond County Public School officials learned “a plan of complete school desegregation” would be required by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). Shortly after, Richmond County became one of four Northern Neck counties to adopt the “freedom of choice plan.” Under the plan, freedom of choice was extended to African American children who were entering “the first, second, eight and twelfth grades in Richmond and Westmoreland areas” to attend former all-white schools. By June 17, 1965, Richmond County had received three “transfer requests-all for the eighth grade” for the 1965-1966 school year. The 1966 yearbook for Rappahannock High School (RHS) shows seven African American students enrolled at the school, one senior (Charles Levere) and seven eighth graders (Velma Lewis, Brenda Sydnor, Robert Taylor, Veronica Thomas, Jean Thompson and Deborah Wynn). By 1969, only 19 of the 365 students who attended RHS were African American. The schools in Richmond County were not fully integrated until the early 1970s.

Source: Virginia Chronicle: Northern Neck News, 1879-1966. The Confederate: 1966, Rappahannock High School Yearbook.