From staff reports
Amherst Glebe Arts Response, Inc. and the Amherst County Museum and Historical Society on Sunday, July 14 will present two of AGAR’s films about educational experiences of the Monacan Nation tribe and African American children in Amherst County during much of the 20th century.
The event will begin at 2:30 pm at the museum’s Hamble Center behind the main museum at 154 South Main Street, Amherst.
The film series was compiled from more 133 interviews with Amherst County teachers, students and parents. The two documentaries being were produced by AGAR, an Amherst-based arts and humanities nonprofit, with support from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
One of the films centers on “The Bear Mountain School,” a small log cabin school that operated to teach Native American students, primarily Monacans, from first- through seventh-grade. The school was founded by missionaries in the late 19th century and operated primarily as a school in Amherst County’s public schools system until Monacan students were accepted into the county’s white schools.
Only then could Monacan students finally attend high school in Amherst County, according to the museum and historical society. The log cabin school on Kemore Road now is a part of the Monacan Ancestral Museum. The film features interviews with former students, the late Rev. Phyllis Hicks, Chief Kenneth Branham, Herbert Hicks, Dolly Ashley and Bonnie Hicks.
Speaking about how Monacan education has changed over the years will be Herbert Hicks, an older member of the Monacan tribe and a golf professional; Branham, the tribe’s current chief, and Winona Gear, a 2019 graduate of Amherst County High School who worked as an intern at the museum during her senior year.
The second film from 2012 is about integration in Amherst County from the perspective of African American students and teachers from 1962 to 1973. The film features perspectives of elementary to high school students. Teachers also speak of the challenges, difficulties and successes that came with integration in the schools.
A post-documentary-showing discussion will be led by Bev Jones, a retired educator who taught in the schools for 35 years, grew up in Amherst County and experienced integration. Jones is chair of the Diversity Committee of Amherst County and worked with Jean Higginbotham as outreach coordinators for AGAR in interviewing retired teachers and previous students for the documentary. Jones often goes to the schools to show some of the 21 documentaries made by AGAR.
The program is made possible by The Greater Lynchburg Community Trust and is open to the public with no admission fee. Light refreshments will be served.