CCS honors the Charlottesville Twelve for integrating schools 63 years ago

It’s a day of celebration for Charlottesville City Schools.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 5:41 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - It’s a day of celebration for Charlottesville City Schools.

September 8, 2022, marked 63 years since the district was integrated. Charles E. Alexander, or “Alex-Zan”, who is part of the Charlottesville Twelve, met with students at Clark Elementary School to help honor the occasion.

“I’m known, but I want you to become known,” Zan told students.

The legacy of the Charlottesville Twelve is taught at the schools now. Javion Wilson is now a fifth grader at Walker Upper Elementary School but in the spring he wrote Alex-Zan a letter as an assignment in his class at Clark Elementary. He says after learning about Alex-Zan, he was immediately intrigued by his story, and grateful for his work.

“They’re part of a big life,” fifth-grade student Javion Wilson said.

Javion’s classmates also wrote letters thanking Alex-Zan.

“When it comes from children, and when they are writing, it comes from the heart. And you know, that is genuine, that they thought about it. And to come from them it you know, it really means something,” Zan said.

Cultivate Charlottesville presented sun dials in honor of the Charlottesville Twelve during Thursday’s celebration. These have been in the works for more than a year.

“Schools are places of learning, and what better place to learn then in the beautiful green, inspiring space of a garden,” Cultivate Charlottesville Executive Director Richmond Morris said.

Each sun dial is inscribed with the names of the Charlottesville Twelve.

“It creates great opportunities when the garden coordinators and the teachers are in the garden with students to talk a little bit about history and what it means and how growing in the garden reflects growing and community,” Morris said.

“I want them to take the lesson and what we have endured and went through and say, ‘Hey, this is what I want to create. This is what I want to achieve,’” Zan said.

A sun dial will be placed in the garden of eight different schools in the district.

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