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Viewing Social Injustice Through Virginia's Living History

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The AARP and DOVE are teaming up to teach the living history of desegregation -- an issue celebrated in this memorial in Richmond to Barbara Johns and her protest against racial segregated schools in 1951.
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The AARP and DOVE are teaming up to teach the living history of desegregation -- an issue celebrated in this memorial in Richmond to Barbara Johns and her protest against racial segregated schools in 1951.

The AARP is one of several groups reminding Virginians of social injustices that existed not too long ago. Their focus is on the personal and sometimes painful stories of the Commonwealth's desegregation of public schools.

Even during the most recent legislative session, lawmakers attempted to sway votes by describing the plight of those in Virginia's past. Historians say instead of listening to those who were not there, however, it's time to document living history. That's why AARP, the Desegregation of Virginia Project and others will travel throughout the state and talk to people such as Andrew Heidelberg, one of the first 17 African-Americans to be admitted to white schools in Norfolk.

Heidelberg says as he went through his ordeal, media outlets told their own accounts: "They really had the story all twisted and it really didn't make sense to me. And as I put in my book, history is written by the winners of the war, and they write it any way that they want to, and it becomes the history."

Over the next several months, DOVE organizers will be looking for volunteers of all races who want their stories documented -- both advocates and opponents of integration.

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