Recognized for her high grade point average, leadership, and community work, CHS Class of 2018 graduate Kelly Oufoula Kossi received the first Charlottesville 12 Scholarship at the June School Board meeting where several members of the original Charlottesville 12 attended and received commendation by Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins.
“We have before us representatives of the Charlottesville 12, the courageous 12 students who integrated Venable Elementary and Lane High School in September, 1959 after being denied both equal access and even any access to our schools during Massive Resistance,” said Dr. Atkins.
Remarks by Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins
June 14, 2018 School Board Meeting
We have before us representatives of the Charlottesville 12, the courageous 12 students who integrated Venable Elementary and Lane High School in September, 1959 after being denied both equal access and even any access to our schools during Massive Resistance.
Present with us today are Roland Woodfolk, Ronald Woodfolk, Donald Martin, Marvin Townsend, Mr. Alex-Zan (Charles Alexander) and Sandra Lewis. Are there any other members of the Charlottesville 12 with us today?
Today, we wish to express our grief and apology for the loss and discrimination you faced during your time in Charlottesville City Schools. We wish to express our admiration for the way you persevered in the face of such challenges, and for your courage in being first and few in otherwise all-white schools. We wish to say thank you for sharing your experiences with our community and our students through interviews, panels, school visits, and even publications. And finally, we wish to offer our gratitude for your generosity in establishing a scholarship earlier this year to honor the Charlottesville 12.
The first recipient of that scholarship, Kelly Oufoula-Kossi, who will be attending George Mason University this fall, is with us tonight. Kelly, please join us.
To the members of the Charlottesville 12: where many people might have responded with bitterness, you have chosen generosity. Where others might have responded by getting stuck in the past, you are investing in the future. Where some might point fingers, you extend open arms. May we all learn from your model.
Thank you for joining us tonight so that we might honor you and thank you.
Of the 12 African American children who were the first to integrate Charlottesville Schools, six attended the school board meeting including: Roland Woodfolk, Ronald Woodfolk, Donald Martin, Marvin Townsend, Mr. Alex-Zan (Charles Alexander) and Sandra Wicks Lewis.
Lewis, who organized and helped fund the $5,000 scholarship, made brief remarks commending Kossi for being a standout applicant and also noted the power of a college education.
“We were absolutely astounded by these kids that applied. Of course, they had great accomplishments and high GPAs, but the thing that was really apparent to all of us is that a college education to these kids would be life-changing,” Lewis said.
A refugee from the Republic of Congo, Kossi moved to the USA when she was 10 years old with her uncle. While attending CHS, she participated in volleyball, dance, theatre, and helped organize the student walkouts to protest gun violence. Kossi plans to attend George Mason University and study criminology.