Conklin Colored

Basic Facts

Broad Run was the historic District.  The contemporary District is Dulles.

Schools for Blacks were given number designations, in addition to their names. White schools except that they were given letter designations. In 1938/39, the number designation for Conklin Colored was #58. Source 1.7 1939 Socio Econ Study

March 24, 2011.   The Board of Supervisors voted to rename the Dulles District the Jennie Dean District, which would have made this the first District in Loudoun County to have been named after a Black.  The proposal was initiated by Pastor Carlos Lawson of the Prosperity Baptist Church in Conklin and Larry Roeder, an advocate for minorities, especially Muslims and Blacks.  The vote in favor was bipartisan. Supervisor  Lori Waters (R Broad Run), cast the only opposing vote.  Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles) abstained.  Sally Kurtz (D for Catoctin) strongly disparaged Miller’s comments.  Supervisor Kelly Burk (D-Leesburg) proposed the measure to the Board, stating that such recognitions of Blacks were long overdue.  Present were many residents of Conklin, including Nellie Dean Thornton, then the oldest resident, and the parishioners of the church.  (Source: Washington Post “Loudoun Supervisors vote to name election district after former slave,” by Caitlin Gibson, April 6, 2011.)

April 4, 2011.  In a stunning reversal, many felt was led by the Republican Chair Scott York and Democrat Stevens Miller, the Board of Supervisors reversed their decision by a vote of 5 to 4 on April 4th, this time in a meeting absent warning, and therefore without many Black supporters being present.  Many were disappointed, including Supervisor Kelly Burk who said “She (Jennie Dean) helped with the education of slaves and their children, and she did that here in Loudoun as well as in Prince William.”  (Source:  “Jennie Dean’s descendants, church community dismayed by Loudoun supervisor’s vote,” Washington Post April 15, 2011.)

For a large study on the history of Conklin Colored School and its village, see  Conklin Village Project.

Jennie Dean was an early Black female religious leader in the region.  Though not a licensed Pastor as far as we know, she was a priest in the general sense of the term and in the best tradition, as an evangelist.  That’s significant, especially just after the Civil War. The formerly enslaved needed such figures to provide hope and help them transition to  a state of prosperous freedom during segregation. Jennie Dean had actually been enslaved, and born in the next county, one of a number of Virginia Black heroes who didn’t let their humble past retard their ability to prosper and influence well outside their birthplace, in this case, to influence Loudoun and other counties. Jennie Dean’s family also lived in present day South Riding, in and near, in the Settle-Dean Cabin in Loudoun County, which has been preserved.  Some still live here on Center Street. Importantly, Dean was instrumental in causing the religious community of formerly enslaved people here to gain an actual physical chapel, which was used for both education and religion. That’s the Prosperity Baptist Church on Braddock. Before then, the parishioners had to pray in homes.  In other words, hers is a direct positive impact on Loudoun and on a particularly vulnerable population rising from the trauma and ashes of a dark time, still needing support during Segregation. Jennie also formed the Manassas Industrial School, which for many Blacks in Loudoun prior to Douglass being built, was a rare opportunity to gain some level of high school education.  That’s a direct contribution to the entire Black population of Loudoun, as well as her county and others.

Information on this page is copyrighted by the Edwin Washington Project, which at the request of Loudoun County Public Schools, is dedicated to revealing what happened to Blacks in the segregated schools of Loudoun.  The current and prior Superintendents both said that such research is essential.  It is the first such major study and involves nearly thirty volunteers.  The project is also a member of the Country School Association of America, a network of academics which studies rural education in the United States.