Now in paperback
The book tells the story of a Virginia community that defied the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling. When ordered by a federal court to desegregate the public schools in 1959, white leaders instead chose to close them.
The public schools would remain shut for five years, depriving hundreds of black children – and some white children – of an education. Students were sent to live with family, even strangers, in other counties, and even other states so they could attend school. Some children worked in the tobacco fields with their parents to help support their families. Many would never again return to a classroom.
It was a story Kristen knew little about as a child. She spent an idyllic childhood in Farmville, swimming with her three brothers in her parents’ pool and being doted on by loving grandparents. All her neighbors, teachers, and classmates were white. She had virtually no contact with blacks in her community, other than her family’s longtime housekeeper, Elsie Lancaster. She was completely unaware of the impact the school closures had had on black children, including Elsie’s daughter.
When Kristen decided to write about what had happened in her hometown, she used her journalistic skills to peel back the layers of the community’s complicated and shameful history. The result is the story of how Barbara Johns, a young, female student led a protest of the conditions at her black high school, resulting in a lawsuit that would ultimately become part of Brown v. Board of Education.
It is the story of a landmark Supreme Court case, and a white Board of Supervisors that voted to close schools rather than allow their children to attend class with black kids. And it is a story of how the affected children, their parents, and the entire community, would forever be changed.
A gripping narrative.
The New York Times
Her thoughtful book is a gift to a new generation of readers.
The Washington Post
Moving and clear-eyed, damning and hopeful, this is an essential read.
The story behind the book, A finalist for the Library of Virginia Literary Award in Nonfiction
Kristen began thinking about writing this book soon after she met her future husband, Jason. Marrying a multiracial man gave the hidden history of her hometown more meaning.
Two years after their wedding, she conducted an interview with the last living founder of the segregation academy she grew up attending. The founder died six weeks later but the way he talked about mixed race children stayed with her, even as she and Jason started their own family.
In the eight years since Kristen conducted that first interview, she and Jason had two daughters. While balancing motherhood, graduate school and her work as a reporter, she continued chipping away at the book, conducting research and doing interviews.
In 2010, she moved with her family to Richmond, Va., in part so that she could be closer to the story of her hometown. In 2013, she lived in Farmville for two months to wrap up research for the book and to experience the town as an adult. She completed the book in 2014.
Meet Kristen and learn more about Something Must Be Done
About Prince Edward County at any of these events
KRISTEN GREEN IS AN AWARD WINNING JOURNALIST.
HER DEBUT Book EXPLORES The DECISION BY LEADERS OF HER HOMETOWN TO CLOSE THE public SCHOOLS RATHER THAN DESEGREGATE. ON THE JOURNEY, SHE DISCOVERS HER FAMILY WAS MORE INVOLVED THAN SHE KNEW.
Kristen Green grew up in Prince Edward County, Va., the only community in the nation to close its schools for five years rather than desegregate. She attended an all-white academy, which was founded in 1959 by her grandparents and other white leaders when the public school doors were locked. The private school did not admit black students until 1986, when she was in the eighth grade.
Kristen has worked for two decades as a journalist at newspapers including The San Diego Union-Tribune and the Boston Globe.
Kristen has a bachelor of arts from University of Mary Washington, which will use the book as its campus read in the 2016-17 school year. She also has a Master in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School. Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County is her first book. It was a New York Times bestseller in race and civil rights and in education, and it was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. The Washington Post recognized it among notable nonfiction for 2015. Kristen and her husband, Jason Hamilton, and their two young daughters live in Richmond, Va.
Kristen has worked as a journalist for two decades.
This is a sample of her work.
Please contact Kristen to discuss freelance opportunities.
Sign up for occasional emails from Kristen.
New York Times Bestseller in Education and in Race & Civil Rights | New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice | Southern Indie Bestseller | Recommended by: O Magazine; Essence; Southern Living; New York Post; Boston Globe | Longlisted for 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Nonfiction | Washington Post Notable Nonfiction for 2015 | Booklist Editors’ Choice: Adult Books, 2015 | “Best Author,” Richmond Magazine, Best & Worst 2016 | Finalist, Library of Virginia People’s Choice Awards | Finalist, Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction | University of Mary Washington Common Read 2016-17 | Brescia University Common Read 2016-17
I’m thrilled that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE made the Washington Post’s notable nonfiction of 2105. It is an honor to be included…
I was proud to learn this week that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE is on the longlist for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for…
I enjoyed being interviewed by Modern Notion for this podcast. My part starts at 13:40.