Diversity and Equality Fairs of Virginia (DFV) (our former name) was formed in 2014 to foster conversations about the value of diversity in modern society. This has remained a core mission and we are now a member of CIVICUS, the world’s largest network of civic-minded groups, itself associated with the United Nations, providing our supporters with a global connection. We have also sponsored or supported discussions and projects supporting diversity.
On September 18/2021, the Board of Directors changed the name of the organization to the Edwin Washington Society. The bylaws were also changed to reflect this name change and to clarify our mission. “Inspired by the legacy of Edwin Washington and other Blacks in Loudoun County, Virginia during segregation to achieve education and equality, the vision of the Society shall be the development and advancement of diversity and equality for all peoples, especially in education, as well as to support such international bodies as decided by the Society. The Society shall also help empower people to realize their rights; and to assist those responsible for upholding such rights in ensuring that they are implemented.”
Self-awareness is critical for a society to grow in a positive way, using comparative strengths of all residents. As a result, DFV is also interested in the preservation.
Some of our programs and projects are as follows.
The Bulletin of Loudoun County History. This annual periodical began over half a century ago to reveal stories mostly about the county’s architecture, the Civil War and biographies. DFV took ownership in 2018, producing our first edition in late 2019. Prior issues were shared with members of a history club; but current issues are sold to the world on Amazon and at three sales-points in Loudoun. In addition, the new issues have more focus on Loudoun’s many ethnic groups, though it remains non-partisan. The Bulletin also has a Facebook page.
The Edwin Washington Project has roots in a 2011 commission by the Prosperity Baptist Church of Conklin in Loudoun County to document a predominantly Black village and its segregated school. By 2014, it evolved under its current name as a partner with Loudoun County Public Schools, documenting all African-American schools from the end of the Civil War until 1968, when integration arrived. Voted Loudoun’s best volunteer group in 2019, the project interviews segregation survivors and studies documents lost for decades in an abandoned Leesburg schoolhouse. Including hand-written petitions by parents and educators, the records cover both black and white education. Many are deteriorated, so we scan them and place everything in special archival containers. We also map the locations of all former white and black schools, and scour archives in many sites like Virginia State, Howard and Atlanta Universities and Swarthmore College, all which hold material on students and teachers in segregated Loudoun. Additionally, we use cutting edge technology such as multi-spectral imagery to reveal hidden text in damaged books, and to provide peer reviews, and are a member of the County School Association of America, the premier body studying rural schools in the United States. The website.
The John Rust Archives Project began in 2017 and is very similar to the Edwin Washington Project, except its focus is on documents created by or sent to a white local politician which were recovered from a wooden chest in a wet basement in Lovettsville. They reveal legal and political matters from the late 19th and early 20th century. Most are moldy and insect eaten, so stabilization has been slow. Detailed research papers won’t emerge until 2021.
The Mortimer Virts Ledger Research Project begun in 2018. Lewis Jett discovered a ledger by coffin maker Mortimer Virts of Hillsboro with 19th and early 20th century records on white and Black burials. We have scanned the entire ledger and begun to study the contents. Other projects are being discussed involving the U.N. and Asia-American needs.