Moton Museum Named World Heritage Site – Farmville

Moton Museum named World Heritage Site

Posted at 4:51 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20, 2022

FARMVILLE – When people hear of important places during the American civil rights movement, cities like Birmingham, Atlanta and Memphis come to mind. Now Farmville and Prince Edward County want to be considered in the same discussion. The Robert Russa Moton Museum, located on Griffin Boulevard in Farmville, has been nominated for one of the highest honors in the world by becoming a World Heritage Site.

The museum, along with other localities in the South, is part of a joint serial nomination to be named a World Heritage Site because of its involvement in the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

What is a World Heritage Site?

The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) created the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972, which created the World Heritage List. This list consists of sites around the world that meet the criteria to be preserved because of their natural or cultural contribution and to safeguard these sites for future generations.

“This is the highest form of designation a site can receive internationally,” said Cameron Patterson, executive director of the Robert Russa Moton Museum. “We have been fortunate to have significant state and national designations. The possibility of realizing a world heritage alongside these other sites is a lesson in humility. »

How is the Moton Museum integrated?

Georgia State University launched this initiative in 2016 to have a serial nomination with many places across the South that have played a complex role in the American civil rights movement. This movement is now considered a global event, many places will be studied.

“We are extremely excited to be able to offer a joint serial collaboration with other civil rights sites and areas in the South that will help tell the story of the civil rights movement,” Patterson said.

The Robert Russa Moton Museum is located in the former Robert Russa Moton High School, known as “the birthplace of America’s student-led Civil Rights Revolution.” According to its website, the 1951 Moton student strike that took place at the high school produced three-quarters of the plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court case. Brown v. Board of Education which desegregated the schools.

According to Patterson, this serial nomination will place the museum on the same list as Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama; the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, to name a few.

It is a long process to get on the provisional list of nominations. Fortunately, the Moton Museum has already been recognized as a landmark in the United States since 1998 and a National Historic Park designation since earlier this year and the site must have one or the other for consideration. There is also a lot of necessary documentation that they have gone through and prepared over the past few years.

The plan is for the nomination to be submitted in the spring of 2023. This will put the locations on the list for consideration, however, there is no timeline as to when they will be officially considered.

Effect on Farmville

Being home to a World Heritage Site will bring more tourism to Farmville. Many people go out of their way to visit World Heritage Sites. Additionally, being connected to more well-known civil rights venues will attract tourists who want to learn more about the movement.

“It could have a big ripple effect in the community,” Patterson said. “A lot of people are interested in world history sites, but it’s exciting to know that it will not only affect the museum, but also the restaurants, shops and hotels in the area. It will create a big impact on local tourism.

Tourism will not be the only change in the city. To be a World Heritage Site, there must be a superimposed neighborhood, or buffer zone, at the location of the museum.

Lee Pambid, Community Development Manager for the City of Farmville, gave a brief overview of what this will entail during the City Council’s business session on Wednesday, September 7. According to Pambid, an overlay district is a type of zoning district that establishes additional regulations for various purposes and these purposes are usually for amelioration, protection or security while keeping the underlying zoning in place.

“The World Heritage Initiative has its own definition of a buffer zone and again we translate this into our language as an overlay district,” Pambid said. “What he’s basically trying to do is protect the immediate environment.”

This new zoning ordinance should only affect new construction and additions in the area. This will ensure that when tourists come to view the site, the area meets World Heritage standards with a complementary look that does not detract from or distract from the Robert Russa Moton Museum.

A public hearing will take place before the end of the year to decide on the size of the superimposed district and its buffer zone. According to Pambid, there is no size requirement, but the goal is to affect as few homeowners as possible with these additional zoning rules.

While these additional regulations will mean an extra step for those looking to build, renovate, or add to the new zoning district, being home to a World Heritage Site will bring tourism to Farmville as a destination area.

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