Overlooked Civil Rights Hero

I read with interest Dr. Larissa Fergeson’s essay in the March issue of Longwood magazine and also the story in the June issue of On Point concerning Longwood’s efforts to commemorate the anniversaries of important civil rights events that took place in Prince Edward County.

I noticed that the courageous actions of Dr. Gordon Moss, dean of the college at Longwood during the turbulent years of the civil rights movement, were not mentioned.

Dean Moss was the face of Longwood in the media in years preceding my enrollment in 1963. He openly voiced opposition to the closing of the public schools in Prince Edward County, a position that was very unpopular with the leadership of the county and commonwealth.

Dean Moss demonstrated tremendous courage by speaking out against the prevailing attitudes of his time.
His son was one of only two white students to enroll in the public schools when they reopened after being closed five years to avoid integration.

Gordon Moss is an overlooked hero in Longwood’s history as well as that of the Prince Edward County and the commonwealth of Virginia. A more prominent place for his legacy would be appropriate. His selfless courage can inspire students, faculty and staff today and in the years to come.

It would be interesting to find out if he had personal papers that tell the story of his experience and for someone to write a book about this amazing man.

Patricia Elizabeth Clifton Harwood ’67

Editor’s Note: In 2013, Longwood’s Department of History established the C.G. Gordon Moss Lecture in American History with an endowment provided by Sharon Gibb ’64. The Class of 1956 provided funding to name the history department chair’s office for Dr. Moss and to restore his portrait, which now hangs outside the chair’s office. Dr. Moss, who died in 1982, was a professor at Longwood from 1944-69.