Marianne Radcliff ’92 (right), rector of Longwood’s Board of Visitors, opened the dedication ceremony, and fellow board member Nadine Marsh-Carter (left), daughter of civil rights leader and former state Sen. Henry Marsh, gave the invocation. President W. Taylor Reveley IV also spoke about the significance of the monument. 

In a ceremony in September, Longwood University unveiled a new monument that celebrates the consequential history of Farmville and its surrounding communities, as well as the people who fought to expand American liberty and, in the process, helped shape not only Farmville’s powerful story but also that of the nation.

It’s a remarkable group, spread over the centuries and each person fighting for freedom in distinctive ways: founding father Patrick Henry, the freed-slave community of Israel Hill and courageous civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns, along with the generation of students who sacrificed years of public education in their legal fight to defeat school segregation.

The monument, a 16-foot-tall obelisk on a stone base surrounded by a low brick wall, stands just across High Street from Longwood’s signature Ruffner Hall and in front of a new admissions building, set to open in fall 2019, that will feature historical exhibits tied to the monument. 

This monument honors all in our community throughout these centuries who have labored and sacrificed to bring forth, in Lincoln’s words, “a new birth of freedom.” It marks also our commitment to honor their struggles by serving as a beacon of education and of leadership forged in reconciliation, and marks our resolve to pass a still finer ideal of liberty  to generations to come.

From the inscription on the Farmville Freedom Monument

“We commemorate and celebrate this crossroads of American history,” President W. Taylor Reveley IV said at the ceremony. “It is a glory to see this monument today.”

The idea for a monument to honor Farmville’s history and those who sacrificed in the cause of liberty was announced during Convocation ceremonies in 2017—the traditional start of the academic year. One year and one day later, the Farmville Freedom Monument was unveiled.

The site on which the monument stands also shares a close connection to Longwood’s past. Professor Gordon Moss, whose courage and bravery during the public school closings in Prince Edward County from 1959-64 inspired many Longwood students and community members, lived in a house that once stood on the property.

In a message to campus inviting students, faculty and staff to attend the unveiling along with the broader community, Reveley noted, “Monuments send a powerful message, often less about their subjects than about the time and place they are built. In our choices of whom to honor and how, we make a statement of values that will carry into the far future.”

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