Eleven Oaks Elementary School
The Black Lives Next Door summer 2021 project focuses on locating Black geographies, empowering Black voices, and uncovering the histories of Black communities in Fairfax County, Virginia. This exhibit traces the short life of Eleven Oaks Elementary--in operation between 1965 and 1968. Several themes are developed: the school's history, student experiences, faculty and staff composition, and processes of desegregation. While Eleven Oaks had seven relatively spacious classrooms, it perennially lacked adequate funding in relation to white schools in the county. As a result, Black teachers went above and beyond their day-to-day professional responsibilities to support students and provide resources to compensate for the shortage of food, books, and other materials. These efforts fostered a warm and supportive culture at Eleven Oaks, which was one of the last schools in Fairfax to be integrated.
The evidence consulted during the research phase included selected period newspapers, professional journals, and maps. These sources helped to recreate the brief history of Eleven Oaks. Preliminary findings identify the location of a long-standing Black community close to George Mason University's campus, local desegregation efforts in Fairfax, public programs available to young people of color, and teacher and student experiences. Future inquiries will focus on how the development of George Mason University's campus may or may not have contributed to the displacement of a Black community that sent their children to Eleven Oaks.