Some of Virginia’s “Brown v. Board” College Grants Go to White Students

I grew up in Virginia with the painful knowledge that my elementary school was one of the many public schools that closed rather than integrate after the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954.  The state is now offering compensation to people whose schooling was interrupted during that period.  Scholarship recipients, who are usually in their mid-60s, get “anywhere from $300 to $10,000 a year for courses of their choosing.”  Since 2004, the state has awarded the scholarships to about 70 people, according to the Washington Post.  A significant number of these people were, however, white.  And the scholarship program says that it wants to do outreach to encourage more white people to apply.

“Both black and white students lost an opportunity because of the state’s decision, and both deserve this aid,” said Brenda Edwards, who administers the scholarships. “White people hear Brown v. Board, and they think they’re not eligible. We’re trying to change that perception…We want more people to get the education they missed out on years ago.”

This news inspired a variety of reactions, from incredulity to downright anger.  Some wondered whether the beneficiaries of the grants came from families that defied the integration order.  Others pointed out that while students of all races, particularly white students in poorer areas, faced educational barriers during the upheaval of “massive resistance,” it’s unquestionably true that black students were most disadvantaged.

Over at the Root, a blogger points out that giving grants to white students as well as black students is an illustration of the fact that while “it may appear that black people are the only ones who are hurt when racism and fear motivate policy decisions, but in the long term, all Americans suffer.”

As someone who attended Virginia public school for more than ten years, however, I find that analysis to be too optimistic.  Virginia is still a state with enormous racial tension and inequity, where only last year, the governor thought it was appropriate to declare April “Confederate History Month.”  While it’s fair to say that many people’s educational opportunities were disrupted by massive resistance, regardless of their race, these grants should be going to the people who were most adversely affected by the refusal to integrate schools.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.


Bette M.
Bette M7 years ago

Martha E. wrote:
"No. It's outrageous to give to white students. Period."

Why would it be it outrageous to give to poor whites?"
Tell me why!

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Ttrees are the lungs of the earth.

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Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle7 years ago

No. It's outrageous to give to white students. Period.

Ernie Miller
william Miller7 years ago

I think all people should be eligible but we need to step back and look at the program. Why are we giving scolerships to 60 yr olds? they should be giving them to their decendants that are only now in school hoping to make up for the loss of education in this new generation that can put it to best use.

Bette M.
Bette M7 years ago

Bernadette P. wrote:
"Yes, the whites should certainly be eligible for the scholarships. This country is so involved with African/American rights it's time to change that."

Bernadette, it is time for the guilt tripping to stop! And it is time for the people & this government to give back royally to the one minority who have been ignored the most.......The Native American indian who have silenced any rage they justly have while blacks have rioted over & over again to get what they want .

his is a free speech comment guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life......Trees are the lungs of the earth.......

Read more:

Bernadette P.
berny p7 years ago

Yes, the whites should certainly be eligible for the scholarships. This country is so involved with African/American rights it's time to change that.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Catt R.
Catt R7 years ago

The grants should go to help those who were denied an education by the state because it was more important to NOT educate the blacks than it was to educate the non-blacks. The color of their skin should not have mattered then and should not matter now. If they are willing to do the work and go to school the state should be obliged to give back what they took from these people out of ignorance.
Just as now some governors have chosen to eliminate prenatal care for the poor, just in case the poor are not documented.... he wants to make sure not pregnant illegal gets prenatal care on the states dime so NO PREGNANT WOMAN gets care related to her pregnancy from the state. The fact that our country already has the lowest survival rate of newborns of the more affluent countries he figures poor women should have taken the law into consideration and not become pregnant.

JoTasha T.
JoTasha T7 years ago

It's time to move on and look to the future, not dwell on the past. I believe that the money should be spent on the poorest schools/students of today. How can anyone make a decision on who should get any money when it happened so long ago? Who decides which students' education was hindered by the integration? How do we know if was the parents decision or the child's decision not to attend school? How do we know if some of these people wanting a government hand out didn't quit school for some other reason and are now getting money that so many of us hit by our current economic crisis could use? How do we know the adults crying out "poor me" today even attended any of those schools? It's not like know where everything is computerized. So many records from the past are lost. My grandmother had to fight the U.S. government to prove she even existed because her school records were destroyed in a fire and the state couldn't find her marriage license and birth certificate.

Elizabeth K.
Elizabeth K7 years ago

They may not have had an explicit point system at Yale in 1964, but Bush clearly got in because of affirmative action. Affirmative action for the son and grandson of alumni. Affirmative action for a member of a politically influential family. Affirmative action for a boy from a fancy prep school. These forms of affirmative action still go on.

Diana S., Yale lowered their standards to admit Bush, his grades did not qualify him. Ok with you?

John McCain graduated 6 from the bottom of his class at West Point, but he became a pilot, even though that program normally only takes the top people in the class. So they lowered their standards for him. That ok with you also?

Patrick F.
Patrick f7 years ago

thomas m. says,
"Man, I am so sick of catering to African Americans. It's been a free ride way to long now!"

You mean like the free ride the slave owners had before slavery was abolished?

the same thomas m. who states in another story about genocide in Africa

"The whole place should be wiped of the map and be done with it."

Why would someone so racist be a member of Care2?