A series introducing the individuals who promote and lead the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities’ work.
Carmen Foster’s relationship with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities goes back decades. That’s no surprise, as her work for justice and understanding has been a lifelong commitment, following in the footsteps of her father and others who came before her.
The most recent example of her never-ending passion and thirst for learning is the completion of her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Carmen’s dissertation, titled “Tension, Resistance and Transition: School Desegregation in Richmond’s North Side 1960-63,” wasrecently profiled in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Through her research, Carmen explored Chandler Junior High School, the “first previously all-white city public school to enroll black students.” She interviewed students and teachers from that time period and pored over archival records.
“I’ve always been interested in confirming the stories and experiences that I had as a young black child who was part of the first wave of students that integrated Richmond public schools in the ’60s,” Carmen notes. However, she acknowledges that her research also exposed many aspects of Richmond’s history that she didn’t know. Of particular curiosity to Carmen was how Richmond navigated a public persona of civility and politeness throughout school integration, even as black students experienced great harassment and even violence.
Ever the storyteller and educator, Carmen’s work continues, now speaking at public events about her research. She is also considering writing a book based on her dissertation.