Victoria in Lunenburg County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The People's Community Center
— Lunenburg County —
On May 13, 1947, several African-American leaders in Lunenburg County met at First Baptist Church in Victoria to discuss the need for a centrally located building large enough to accommodate countywide gatherings and educational activities for blacks. Out of a need to deal with the effects of racism and the state policy of “Separate, But Equal”, the idea to build The People’s Community Center was born. Lunenburg Training School, the high school for “negroes,” consisted primarily of an assortment of wooden buildings, without a gymnasium or adequate space for large group gatherings, such as graduations.
John E. Williams, a local mortician and shoe repair shop owner, led the effort in planning, promoting and executing the plan for a new building. With no available funds, the small group was encouraged when Mr. and Mrs. R. M. Williams, owners of Victoria Supply Company, donated land and extended credit for building materials. The resulting sturdy cinder block building was constructed mainly with freely given volunteer labor, mostly from returning World War II black veterans. It was paid for through a variety of fundraising
Since its opening, the Center was used mainly, but not solely, by the African-American citizenry for numerous social, educational, religious, recreational, political and other activities. It was also a voting precinct and a meeting place for senior citizens and Civil Rights planning sessions. From 1952 – 1969 the Center was used by the African-American high school for graduations, basketball games, proms and other countywide school related events. In 1966 the Center was condemned after the roof collapsed as a result of heavy snowfall and ice accumulation. However, through coordinated private and public efforts it was rebuilt and reopened on September 9, 2000.
Erected by Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®. (Marker Number 21.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights • Education. In addition, it is included in the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail series list. A significant historical date for this entry is May 13, 1947.
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. It was located near 36° 59.167′ N, 78° 13.459′ W. Marker was in Victoria, Virginia, in Lunenburg County. Marker was at the intersection of Tidewater Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Victoria VA 23974, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this location, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named The Peoples Community Center (here, next to this marker); Nathaniel Lee Hawthorne (approx. 0.2 miles away); Places of the Past (approx. half a mile away); Businesses & Merchants (approx. half a mile away); People of Victoria (approx. half a mile away); Railroad History (approx. half a mile away); Town of Victoria (approx. half a mile away); Lunenburg High School (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Victoria.
More about this marker. On the left are three photos with the captions:
“(Above) Lunenburg County Training School graduating class of 1952. Commencement ceremonies were often held in the Peoples Community Center.”
“(Top Left) The original Peoples Community Center. The building had to be demolished in 1966 after the roof collapsed due to a heavy snowfall.”
“(Below Left) The Lunenburg High School varsity basketball team, 1954-55. Lunenburg High School did not have a gymnasium of its own so games were held at the Peoples Community Center."
On the right is a photo with the caption, "(Above Right) John E. Williams, a local mortician and shoe repair shop owner, led the effort in planning the Peoples Community Center."
Graduates photo courtesy of Atlas S. Robinson. Community Center photo donated to the Center by Galvin L. Jenkins. Basketball team photo courtesy of Joseph Epps.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. New Marker At This Location also titled "The Peoples Community Center".
Credits. This page was last revised on November 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 14, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,102 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 14, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.