[ skip to content ]

News @ ODU

ODU’s Sonia Yaco Interviewed for C-SPAN Program on School Desegregation Project

Yaco-CSPANSonia Yaco being interviewed by C-SPAN producer Christy Hinton.

Old Dominion University's award-winning DOVE Project on Virginia school desegregation will be spotlighted on national public affairs television network C-SPAN 2 and C-SPAN 3 April 20-21.

Throughout the spring, C-SPAN 2 and C-SPAN 3 will feature historical sights, as well as authors and books written from a particular city, in an effort to highlight each area's history and literary culture. The series is part of the programs "Book TV" and "American History TV."

For the Virginia Beach special, Sonia Yaco, ODU's Special Collections librarian and university archivist, was interviewed recently about the creation of the exhibit "School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve and Empower."

Old Dominion University Libraries' Special Collections and University Archives contains more than 35,000 pages of primary source material that document the history of school desegregation in Norfolk from 1954-1993, starting with the Massive Resistance crisis and continuing into the busing lawsuits of the late 1980s. These collections are rich in material, covering the activities of the Norfolk School administration and board, the Norfolk Committee on Public Schools, and the activities of several prominent citizens in their efforts to reopen the public schools. Information on Virginia's reaction to the Supreme Court's decision as a whole is also included.

Highlights of these materials are available in the digital collection, "School Desegregation in Norfolk, Virginia," which provides access to more than 3,000 pages of primary source documents, including correspondence, news articles, reports, speeches and legal papers. Oral history interviews with some of the major figures of the time, including Vivian Carter-Mason, Ruth James and ODU Professor Robert Stern, are also included. A special feature of the website is a tribute to the Norfolk 17, the 17 African American students who entered six previously all-white middle and high schools. See http://www.lib.odu.edu/specialcollections/schooldesegregation/index.htm.

A traveling exhibit of materials from the collection was the result of collaboration between Old Dominion University Libraries and DOVE (Desegregation of Virginia Education). Last year, the ODU Libraries and the DOVE Project formed a partnership with AARP Virginia, Virginia Conference NAACP and the Urban League of Virginia to collect stories and historic documents detailing Virginia's historic journey toward the desegregation of its schools.

The initiative resulted in a series of events, titled "School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve and Empower," held in Hampton, Portsmouth, Richmond, Farmville, Lynchburg, Alexandria, the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Roanoke last spring and summer. The events included an audio-visual exhibition featuring photographs of those involved in the struggle for school equality, such as Oliver W. Hill, Thurgood Marshall and others, along with a timeline of key events.

ODU and Yaco, who is the founder and co-chair of the DOVE Project, were awarded the AARP 2012 Community Partner of the Year Award for their collaboration on the traveling DOVE exhibit.

As part of C-SPAN's 2013 Nationwide Cities Tour, the cable network will be gathering content to give its audience an inside look at the history and literary life of various cities on its nonfiction book channel ("Book TV" on C-SPAN 2) and history channel ("American History TV" on C-SPAN 3 ).

To gather the content, C-SPAN producers will visit various literary and historic sites, interviewing local authors, historians and civic leaders. With Virginia Beach's rich history spanning from the First Landing in 1607 through the development of the nation's first federally funded public works project - the Cape Henry Lighthouse - to the many historic homes, tremendous military history and so much more, opportunities abound for C-SPAN to capture a compelling look at the city of the Virginia Beach.