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75TH ALEXANDRIA LIBRARY SIT-IN ANNIVERSARY

America’s earliest known civil rights sit-in at a library—the 1939 sit-in on Alexandria’s own Queen Street—will be celebrated by Alexandria Library throughout 2014, as it hosts events honoring the 75th anniversary of the peaceful protest. One of the nation’s most little-known historical events involved leadership from native Alexandrian, attorney Samuel W. Tucker, and five young African American men who demonstrated an act of civil disobedience at the Barrett Branch after being denied library cards. The commemorative events at Alexandria Library locations will center around civil rights, human rights and the African American diaspora. Honoring the sit-in gives the institution the opportunity to shed light on a civil rights act that took place more than 15 years before the Civil Rights Movement.


"The boldness and orchestration of the sit-in was unparalleled by anything else at the time," said Anniversary co-chair, Alexandria civil rights legend Ferdinand Day, who played a pivotal role in Alexandria’s school integration during the 1960s. "Its place in history is not just an achievement for African Americans—it paved the way for providing free access of the Library to the entire public."

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Linda Wesson, Administrative Services

Email: lwesson@alexlibraryva.org

 

75th Alexandria Library Sit-In of 1939 Anniversary Event

 

Alexandria, VA August 21, 2014 – In honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Alexandria Library Sit-In, the Alexandria Library commemorates this little known historic civil rights event at the Kate Waller Barrett Branch, where the sit-in originally took place. On August 21, 1939, five African American men individually entered the segregated building and requested library cards. When denied, each man calmly took a book off of a shelf to read. After two hours, library authorities had the men arrested for their act of “civil disobedience”.

 

“Due to the bravery of these men, 75 years later our library is a community hub that supports all individuals by providing equal access to books, technology, culture, and so much more”, says Director of Libraries, Rose T. Dawson. Dawson also happens to be Alexandria’s first African American Library Director.

 

The Alexandria Library was founded first as a subscription library in 1794 and became Alexandria’s public library in 1937. Two years later, Attorney Samuel Tucker organized and defended sit-in protesters, William (Buddy) Evans, Otto L. Tucker, Edward Gaddis, Morris Murray, and Clarence Strange. Though the men were charged with disorderly conduct, the city delayed the case and no ruling was ever issued.

 

The public is invited to join Alexandria Library in recognizing this significant local event. The program will feature keynote speakers Frank Smith, Ph.D., Director, African American Civil War Museum and Patricia Timmons-Goodson, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) and who is a newly appointed Commissioner, United States Commission on Civil Rights. Visitors can also enjoy music, children’s activities, food and refreshments, gift bags, and more on Thursday, August 21, 2014, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314!

 

Alexandria Library also welcomes the public to share their experiences during the event @AlexLibraryVA and #LibrarySitIn. 

 

For further information, please contact Tina McPherson at 703-746-1770.


SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street


9:30 a.m.

Men of Victory
Shiloh Baptist Church 
(Main Stage)


10:00 a.m.  

75th Anniversary Program Begins
Mayor William D. Euille
The Honorable Rob Krupika
Lift Every Voice & Sing Instrumental
Keynote Speakers:  Frank Smith, Ph.D., Director, African American Civil War Museum and Patricia Timmons-Goodson, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) and newly appointed Commissioner, United States Commission on Civil Rights.
(Main Stage)

**Food and Refreshments Available**


11:15 a.m.

Oasis Island Sounds
Peter Humphrey
(Lloyd House Courtyard)

Kwame Ansah-Brew
West African Stories, Games, & Music
(Barrett Branch, Children's Area)


12:00 p.m.

Doc Night and the Hipnotix
(Main Stage)
 

 

 

IN THE PRESS

For press inquiries, please contact the Communications Officer, Anton Murray.

"Unsung Heroes: Virginia Library Sit-In"
Newseum.org
February 9, 2015

"Library Marks 75th Anniversary of First Sit-In"
American Libraries
November/December 2014

"How An Alexandria Man Came To Lead One Of The First Civil Rights Protests"
Metro Connection on WAMU 88.5
October 3, 2014

"Black History Honored in Alexandria"
The Washington Informer
August 27, 2014

"The 75th Anniversary of the Alexandria Sit-In" 
WUSA9
August 22, 2014

"75 Years After the Alexandria Library Sit-In" 
The Kojo Nnamdi Show
August 22, 2014

"Alexandria Library Marks 75th Anniversary of Sit-In" 
NBC4 Washington
August 21, 2014

"Samuel W. Tucker: A man ahead of his time"
Alexandria Times
August 21, 2014

"Little Known Black History Fact: Alexandria Library Sit-In" 
BlackAmericanWeb.com and Tom Joyner Morning Show
August 21, 2014

"Lawyer Samuel Tucker and his historic 1939 sit-in at segregated Alexandria Library"
Washington Post
August 7, 2014

 

POSTCARD

Unable to participate in the Alexandria Library's 75th Anniversary Sit-In? Now you can! Just complete this virtual postcard with your name, city, state, and comments and we will pinpoint your location on our virtual map.

If you would like a hard copy of the postcard that was distributed, please fill in your street address and we will gladly send one to you, free of charge!

Thank you for your participation in this monumental event.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

75th Alexandria Library Sit-In Anniversary
posted on August 15, 2014

The public is invited to join Alexandria Library in recognizing this significant local event. The program will feature keynote speakers Frank Smith, Ph.D., Director, African American Civil War Museum and Patricia Timmons-Goodson, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) and who is a newly appointed Commissioner, United States Commission on Civil Rights. Visitors can also enjoy music, children’s activities, food and refreshments, gift bags, and more on Thursday, August 21, 2014, from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314.

 

Samuel W. Tucker After the Sit-in
posted on August 11, 2014

Join Duncan Branch on Saturday, August 16 at 2 p.m., as local historian Sarah Becker discusses the life of Samuel W. Tucker after the sit-in that took place at the Barrett Library in 1939.

 

 

Out of Obscurity Film Screening at Barrett Branch
posted on July 17, 2014

Join the Barrett Branch and Local History for a viewing of a documentary about the 1939 sit-in at the Alexandria Library. Out of Obscurity details a little known, but nonetheless watershed, chapter in civil rights history. Just before World War II broke out, five young men staged at a public library just outside Washington, DC what is believed to be the nation's first sit-in to protest the "separate, but equal" treatment of African-Americans.

 

 

Discussion with Earl L. Cook at Duncan Branch
posted on July 14, 2014

Join us for a lively discussion with Alexandria's Police Chief, Earl L. Cook - growing up in Alexandria, graduating from T.C. Williams high school, and becoming Alexandria's first African-American Police Chief. Q&A to follow.

 

The Impact of Segregation on African-American Women's Mental Health
posted on June 16, 2014

Join Duncan Branch on June 21, 2-4 p.m. as Dr. Veronica R. Franklin discusses the mental health impacts of segregation on African-American women. 

 

 

Free 1920s Dance Lessons at Alexandria Library
posted on May 9, 2014

Channel your inner razzle-dazzle spirit. As part of our  All Alexandria Reads programming  (AAR), we're offering free  1920s-style dance lessons at the Beatley Central and Burke Branch. Learn the exuberant dance moves that were popularized during the jazz era and beyond such as Swing, the Charleston and Lindy Hop.  Or, you can simply enjoy the seminars and demonstrations when you visit.  

 

 

E. Ethelbert Miller Presents: Langston Hughes & The Harlem Renaissance
posted on April 25, 2014

Internationally-recognized poet, author and educator, E. Ethelbert Miller, joins the Duncan Branch on Monday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. for his presentation, Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance.  

 

Author Talk with Dr. Lopez Matthews
posted on April 7, 2014

Please join the Duncan Branch Library on April 14 at 7 p.m. for an author talk as we continue to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Alexandria Library sit-in. Dr. Lopez Matthews will discuss his book, "The True Worth of a Race: African American Women in the Struggle for Freedom."

 

In Her Words
posted on March 12, 2014

Back to celebrate acclaimed African American female entertainers and writers, the talented arts group,  Liberated Muse visits Beatley Central Library again to perform the musical theatrical production, In Her Words, on Thursday March 27 at 7 p.m. 

 

Author Talk with Nancy Silcox at Beatley Central Library
posted on February 5, 2014

Nancy Noyes Silcox was inspired to write “Samuel Wilbert Tucker: Story of the Civil Right Trailblazer and  the 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In" to ensure that Samuel Tucker's heroic story and legacy would live on. Silcox will discuss her book on Sunday, February 9, at 2 p.m., at the Beatley Central Library, as part of Alexandria Library's 75th anniversary celebration of that historic act.