Segregation-era School Transportation Pioneer Honored with Highway Marker

In the early 20th century, Lucian Hunter’s family was denied public transportation to the segregated schools of Hanover County, in Virginia. On Saturday, his descendants were given a police escort to the unveiling of a placard honoring Hunter’s work helping black students get to school, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

A highway marker recognizing Hunter’s acquisition of Hanover’s first school bus for African-Americans in 1934 was revealed to the public Saturday near the intersection of North Washington Highway and Berkley Street in Ashland. Hunter got the bus with the support of the Chickahominy Baptist Association.

A celebration of the marker held at the First Union Baptist Church in Mechanicsville was attended by family, friends and Hanover officials.

The historical testament is the result in part of the efforts of Pat Hunter-Jordan, a granddaughter of Hunter’s. Hunter-Jordan said that about a year ago, she was inspired to apply to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to get a marker recognizing her grandfather.

“Without that bus, it’s a 16-mile walk from Mechanicsville to Ashland,” Hunter-Jordan said. “If he had not provided that bus, a lot of our parents would not have been able to go to school.”

At a time when the Hanover School Board gave funding to survey the needs of white students and provided buses for white students, black students were denied similar forms of public support, according to a program for Saturday’s event.

At a meeting in 1934 that Hunter attended, the School Board stated that there were no funds available to finance a bus for the transportation of black students to the Hanover County Training School in Ashland, according to the program.

The unequal treatment didn’t stop Hanover’s black community from raising money so African-American children could get an education. After acquiring the bus for $100, Hunter, along with his sons Clarence, Earl and Chester, drove students from the county’s Henry District to the school.

Jennifer Loux, the highway program manager at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, said the Hunter placard was an important addition.

“We have quite a few markers about education in the segregation era, but this one is the very first one that tells the story of the denial of public school buses to African-American students and the effort made by the black community to make sure children could attend schools,” Loux said.