Murray Elementary Dedicates Namesake Wall

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Murray Elementary students examine the school’s new Namesake Wall in honor of Virginia L. Murray. Photo: Lisa Martin.

Murray Elementary School dedicated a new “namesake wall” in the school’s entry foyer that celebrates the life and contributions of Virginia L. Murray. A lively dedication event held on the evening of November 10 featured a host of 1960s-era alumni as well as current and former teachers, students, and parents, who sampled hors d’oeuvres, watched a video presentation of alums recalling the school’s early days, and recorded their own memories for posterity. Current Murray students served as guides who greeted guests and described the various activities provided for attendees.

Alum Alice Hill was part of a cohort of students who were relocated to Murray Elementary after attending the former all-Black Crozet Elementary School across from the Union Mission Baptist Church. “Miss Virginia Murray’s sister was our teacher and principal at the old Crozet school,” said Hill, who graduated from Murray in 1964 after completing the fourth to seventh grades there. “This school was much smaller then, of course. There were only two hallways, and the gym and cafeteria were combined.”

Born in 1897, Virginia L. Murray was an African American educator who came from humble beginnings as one of 13 children raised by her father after her mother died young. Despite long odds, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University in 1927, followed by a Master’s degree from New York University. In 1931 she was appointed the supervisor of African American schools in Albemarle county, and served as supervisor of elementary education from 1931 until her death in 1959. Virginia L. Murray Elementary School opened in 1960 to consolidate African American schools in western Albemarle. It was desegregated in 1965.

“[Here at Murray Elemen-tary], our students are welcomed and secure in their academic risks, and are active and engaged members of their learning community,” said principal C’ta DeLaurier in remarks to the assembled crowd. “This evening we gather in order to commemorate Ms. Murray and her ideals through the dedication of her namesake wall. This exhibit not only captures the history of the school but will be used as an interactive learning tool for current students. Thank you, Miss Murray—Murray Elementary has been and remains a great place to grow, and I think you’d be proud.” 

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