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Middlesex Museum to celebrate Black History Month

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John Henry St. Clare Walker
The Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society invites its members and all county residents and friends to a living history presentation on Thursday, February 18, at 7 p.m. at the historic courthouse in Saluda. At this unique event, Rashard J. Wright will bring to life the person and work of the county’s beloved and well-known educator, John Henry St. Clare Walker, in celebration of Black History Month.

Wright, an eminent Virginia educator, served as a former assistant superintendent of Middlesex County Public Schools. While studying for his doctoral degree in educational administration and policy studies with George Washington University, he is currently serving as principal of Kecoughtan High School in Hampton, his alma mater. He holds a BA degree in English and a master’s in teaching in secondary English education. 

His presentation will highlight the long and dedicated career of Mr. St. Clare Walker, a native of Middlesex, who lived an extraordinary life between 1876 and 1960. An early black educator in the days of American segregation, Mr. St. Clare Walker learned to read in the home of a white family that recognized his passion for learning. He earned degrees from Hampton Institute and dedicated his life to bringing education to blacks in Middlesex County, teaching for 20 years at Dunbar, a four-room school, and later serving for 20 years as principal of the Middlesex Training School. 

The county honored Mr. St. Clare Walker by naming the county’s all-black high school St. Clare Walker High School (SCWHS) in 1948. When that building became the county’s first integrated middle school in 1970, it was named St. Clare Walker Middle School. When the county built a new middle school in 1994, it kept the same name in honor of Mr. St. Clare Walker.

Current county students learn each year of Mr. St. Clare Walker’s educational legacy to the county.

Richard Shores, museum president, encourages all to come out to this living history event to “become acquainted with” Mr. St. Clare Walker as characterized by Rashard Wright. A memorable evening is planned.

The presentation is free and museum members will host a reception at the nearby museum annex afterwards, with refreshments. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet Wright and also peruse the museum’s outstanding exhibit on the history of public and private education in Middlesex County.

posted 02.04.2010

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