Brown v. Board at 65: J.A. Stokes — The Student Strike That Launched One of the Most Influential Civil Rights Movements in Virginia. ‘We Jump-Started Our Own Manhattan Project’
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BY J.A. STOKES

“The smoldering cross dwarfed us. As the four of us — Admore Joiner, Thelma Allen, Rome Allen, and I — craned our necks and fixed our eyes on the menacing reminder of racist terror, it sent chills through our entire beings. No, this was not an imagined threat; this was real.

The burning rags wrapped around the top portion of this heavy wooden structure had begun to burn out and fall to the ground. Its remnants were now curling around the base, withering like snakes, and slowly dying out. The pungent odor of chemicals and residue that had been used for this ungodly, eerie act filled the air with an intense putrid odor that penetrated the entire atmosphere surrounding the school.

The inner portions of my nostrils burned as I stood there. In that moment, the stench seemed to encompass the whole universe. The deadness settling over the area created a knot that gripped the pit of my stomach, making me want to regurgitate. This horrendous symbol was intended to intimidate us and to get even with the colored people who had filed a lawsuit against the Prince Edward County School Board and the man we called “oligarch”: Superintendent of Schools McIlwaine.”

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