James A. Bland High School: Working Toward A National Register Of Historic Places Nomination
Keywords:virginia, segregation in education, african americans, civil rights, discrimination in education
In February 2019, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR)
established its online catalog for Historic African American Sites in Virginia and called for further submissions to protect crumbling properties. James A. Bland High School remains standing, but its core records destroyed. I pieced together the history of the high school by conducting informal oral histories in the community and transcribing the local newspaper, The Coalfield Progress. COVID-19 halted further research until was able to safely access the Library of Virginia’s archival records. Using this, I determined Wise County opposed racial integration in public education through the operation of a Pupil Placement Board from 1957-1965. Local and state resistance resulted in discrimination against students at James A. Bland High School until the Civil Rights Act forced the county to integrate in 1965. This historical significance of James A. Bland High School cannot be understated nor forgotten by dominant historical narratives.