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.
By Bernard Fisher, June 13, 2010
1. The People's Community Center CRIEHT Marker
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 activities.
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.
2. Left panel photos
(Top) Lunenburg County Training School graduating class of 1952; (Middle) The original Peoples Community Center; (Bottom) The Lunenburg High School varsity basketball team, 1954-55.
Erected by Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®. (Marker Number 21.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 36° 59.167′ N, 78° 13.459′ W. Marker is in Victoria, Virginia, in Lunenburg County. Marker is at the intersection of Tidewater Avenue and West 7th Street, on the right when traveling east on Tidewater Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Victoria VA 23974, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Nathaniel Lee Hawthorne (approx. 0.2 miles away); Town of Victoria (approx. half a mile away); Lunenburg County Confederate Monument
(approx. 2.9 miles away); Court House (approx. 2.9 miles away); Lunenburg County Courthouse (approx. 2.9 miles away); The Glebe of Cumberland Parish (approx. 3.4 miles away); St. John’s Church (approx. 5.6 miles away); Craig's Mill (approx. 5.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Victoria.
By Bernard Fisher, June 13, 2010
3. The People's Community Center
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."
photo courtesy of Atlas S. Robinson. Community Center photo donated to the Center by Galvin L. Jenkins. Basketball team photo courtesy of Joseph Epps.
4. Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail® Map
1. Winonah Camp/Mozella Price Home
2. Carver-Price School
3. Education in 1800's Rural Virginia
4. One-Room Schoolhouse
5. Carter G. Woodson Birthplace
6. Hamilton High School
7. Rosenwald School at Cartersville
8. Jackson Davis
9. Russell Grove Presbyterian Church and School
10. Mrs. Samantha Jane Neil
11. Virginia State University
12. Earliest Known Public High School for African Americans in Virginia
13. McKenney Library
14. The Peabody-Williams School
15. Southside Virginia Training Center
16. Rocky Branch School
17. Early Education in Dinwiddie County
18. Blackstone Female Institute
19. Mt. Nebo Church
20. Ingleside Training Institute
21. The People's Community Center
22. St. Matthew's Lutheran Church Christian Day School
Prince Edward County
23. Prince Edward County Public Schools
24. R. R. Moton High School
25. Farmville Female Seminary Association
26. First Baptist Church
27. Beulah AME Church
28. Hampden-Sydney College
29. Southside Virginia Community College - John H. Daniel Campus
30. Charlotte County Library
31. Salem School
32. Meadville Community Center
33. Mary M. Bethune High School
34. Washington-Coleman Elementary School
35. Mizpah Church
36. Thyne Institute
37. Boydton Academic and Bible Institute
38. Southside Virginia Community College - Christanna Campus
39. Saint Paul's College
40. Hospital and School of the Good Shepherd
41. Fort Christanna
Also see . . . Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail. Virginia's Retreat (Submitted on June 14, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. • 20th Century • African Americans • Civil Rights • Education •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 14, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 969 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 14, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.