By Rhonda AppleFebruary 10, 2011
''The first school to become racially integrated in the Commonwealth of Virginia was the elementary school at Fort Myer," said Kim Holien, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall historian. The school was on Sheridan Avenue, which was across the street from the JBM-HH Fitness Center.
''This building later became the post library (which faced Sheridan Ave.) and child development center (which faced McNair Road) up until about 2007, when the building was closed." The site where this building was built is the proposed United States Army Band building.
Holien said in 1954 there was the famous Supreme Court decision called Brown VS. the Board of Education, which stated that separate but equal schools were not constitutional therefore racially integrated schools were required. ''When they did the original desegregation in 1955, it was a big news item and area photographers were sent here to cover the event," said Holien.
''There's a famous photograph of black and white elementary school children about eight or nine years old working together as school children will do," recalled Holien.
''This set the standard for school desegregation in Virginia as an example was set by the dependent elementary school children attending the school on Fort Myer," the historian said.
''It was a very peaceful and amiable desegregation with kids working together on school projects."
Holien recalled the famous photograph was used throughout the country in 1955.
''In 2005 for the 50th anniversary of Brown VS. the Board of Education, a big scholastic association in New York City contacted me for a copy of that original photograph because it exemplified what was desired in the way of school desegregation," he said.
''It was carried out so well here at Fort Myer."
The building, built in the architectural style of the 1950s, was in operation during the early to mid-fifties, Holien said.
''It was used as a school until the 1970s when the children attending school at Fort Myer were transferred into the Arlington County public school system," Holien said.