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Clinic Joins Fight To Preserve Historic Black Schoolhouse

The Environmental and Regulatory Law Clinic at the University of Virginia School of Law has joined an effort to protect a historic African American schoolhouse and surrounding property, which community members say are threatened by a proposed landfill.

Pine Grove Elementary School in Cumberland County, Virginia, was built in 1917 as one of thousands of Rosenwald Schools constructed in the South to educate black children in the Jim Crow era. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and other agencies are currently reviewing permit applications for the proposed Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility, and considering the impact that the landfill would have on environmental and historic resources in the area.

The Green Ridge site encompasses 1,200 acres. If approved, it would take in between 3,500 and 5,000 tons of waste per day according to estimates from County Waste of Virginia, which seeks to operate the facility.

“The history here is important. It shouldn’t be filed away next to a landfill,” said Professor Cale Jaffe ’01, the clinic’s director. “I accepted the case into the clinic because I wanted to give students the chance to work directly with a community and make sure that the community’s stories were elevated and cherished as an incredible monument to strength in the face of segregation, Jim Crow persecution and discrimination.”

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