Amid the controversy last week over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's latest comments and his relationship with Sen. Barack Obama ["Obama Calls Minister's Comments 'Outrageous,' " front page, April 30], it might be useful to take a look at some of the racial politics we've had in our region. The small town of Farmville in Southside Virginia offers a rich case study in what Obama has called "the racial stalemate," the failure of black and white people to openly discuss their mutual resentments.
In 1959, Prince Edward County shut down its public schools for five years to resist the racial integration ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court. The white children went to a hastily organized private academy that was subsidized by the state government; the black kids were left to fend for themselves.
Today, blacks and whites in Prince Edward still live racially isolated lives. The children of well-off white residents attend the private school established in 1959, leaving the predominantly black public schools starved for resources. The high school even has two cheerleading squads: one black, one white.