Lynchburg’s Old City Cemetery holding fundraiser to honor prominent African American educator

James Mozee dedicated a half century to teaching students during segregation

Lynchburg's Old City Cemetery wants to recognize a major African American figure.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Lynchburg’s Old City Cemetery wants to recognize a major, African American figure who dedicated his life to education in the Hill City.

But they need help raising the funds to honor him.

“This will not stand any longer. This man deserves a [gravestone], if anyone does; and we decided that we, the living, can do something about this,” said Michael Hudson, marketing manager & historian at Old City Cemetery.

That man is James Mozee, who dedicated a half-century to education, teaching African American students during segregation.

The Missouri native moved to Lynchburg in 1908, where his wife’s family lived.

When she died, Mozee purchased her gravestone; but when he passed in 1941, we’re told there was no one to buy his marker.

Cemetery leaders will hold a fundraiser Saturday morning to buy the stone.

“Figures like him, and heroes; their names should be recognized,” said Dee Brown, who will be part of the fundraiser by portraying Mozee in a 10-minute monologue about his life.

Mozee taught at Robert S. Payne Elementary, then at the now-closed Dunbar High School.

He served as “building principal,” an administrative position requiring him to lead the school under the supervision of a white principal.

“He was strict, but he was understanding. He knew the resources were limited, but he didn’t let the students use that as an excuse,” said Brown.

“There just weren’t a lot of resources that were made available for students. James Mozee looked at these situations and he said, ‘there is more, and we can do more, and we can certainly do better for these kids,” said Hudson.

Tickets to Saturday’s fundraiser are sold out. You can contribute to the cause by clicking here.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.