Virginia man seeking $1 million grant for fund aiding Black students

Ken Woodley is a retired journalist, author, and the creator of a fund aiding Black students.
Published: May. 13, 2023 at 6:34 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Virginia man is hoping to receive a $1 million grant this year to boost education in the Commonwealth.

Ken Woodley is a retired journalist, author, and the creator of a fund aiding Black students.

“Virginia had a law that empowered the governor to close any school at which integration was imminent,” Woodley said. “In the fall of 1958, a handful of individual schools, all of them white, were closed in Charlottesville, in Norfolk and in Warren County.”

Woodley says that back in the late 50s, Virginia adopted a policy of “Massive Resistance” to school integration and in 1959 Prince Edward County defunded its entire public school system and closed schools for five years. White students attended a private  whites-only academy while Black students were left with nowhere to learn.

“For African American children, there was nothing, so there was no school. They were denied an education because there was no educational system. It had been taken away from them overnight by a vote,” Woodley said.

These events inspired Woodley to begin the “Brown v. Board of Education Student Fund.” The fund gives those denied an education a shot another shot at schooling, at any point in their life.

“It starts wherever the student is at, whether they need to learn to read, a GED, then move on. It’s continuous, you can go to community college for your college, we’ve had people earn Master’s in the Brown scholarship program,” Woodley said.

Woodley got a $2 million grant for the fund in 2004, and in 2023 the fund started covering descendants of those students as well.

“People say for instance, ‘I never owned a slave. Why should I be concerned about reparations?’ Now, none of us own slaves, but we own today. Each of us owns today, and we are responsible for the state of the union in which we find it,” Woodley said.

When asked why he started this fund, Woodley responded: “I’m not a corporation. I’m not a politician. I’m not a nonprofit group. I’m just a guy, I’m just a citizen, and while through my journalistic career I have been blessed with contacts and I have maintained those contacts, I hope people can see the power in themselves.”

A decision is expected to be made on the additional funding later this year.

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