Alexandria Library Civil Rights Sit-In 70th Anniversary

Friday, August 21, 2009

On August 21, 1939, five young African American men -- William Evans, Otto L. Tucker, Edward Gaddis, Morris Murray, Clarence Strange -- staged a "sit-down strike" at the then whites-only Alexandria Library. One by one the young men entered the building and asked to register for a library card. Each well-dressed visitor was refused, then each selected a book and sat down to read. All five were arrested for disorderly conduct. Attorney Samuel W. Tucker, who had organized the action himself, represented them and none of the men were convicted. On August 21, 2009, Alexandria Library celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the Sit-In, considered to be the first Civil Rights Sit-In in United States History. During the 70th Anniversary Celebration, students from Samuel Tucker re-enacted the sit-in, Vice Mayor Kerry Donley read a Proclamation, and members of the media took pictures of the student re-enacting the photograph of the original young men being escorted from the library by police.

Alexandria Library Director Rose Dawson (far right) congratulates the students from Samuel Tucker Elementary School on their re-enactment of the 1939 Civil Rights Sit-In.

Proclamation on the 70th Anniversary of the 1939 Civil Rights Sit-In

THE 2009 PROCLAMATION (CLICK IMAGE TO EXPAND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO MAGNIFY)
Tucker students re-enacting the sit-in photo

SAMUEL TUCKER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS OUTSIDE 717 QUEEN STREET
Cover to the program of the 70th anniversary of Alexandria Library Civil Rights Sit-in

COVER OF THE ANNIVERSARY PROGRAM WITH ORIGINAL PHOTO FROM 1939

 

On Friday, August 21, a little after 10 am, Vice Mayor Kerry J. Donley read the above proclamation.

Click here for a PDF of the program of this historic anniversary.

Members of the press attended the program and reported on the anniversary before and after the program.

Cover of Alexandria Gazette

(CLICK IMAGE TO EXPAND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO MAGNIFY)

Alexandria Gazette Newspaper, Vol. CCXXV, No. 34, August 27, 2009. Page 1.

Alexandria Gazette - Page 4

(CLICK IMAGE TO EXPAND THEN CLICK AGAIN TO MAGNIFY)

Alexandria Gazette Newspaper, Vol. CCXXV, No. 34, August 27, 2009. Page 4.

Photos from the 70th Anniversary program

Vice Mayor Kerry Donnelly (at podium) reading the City of Alexandria's Proclamation to a "standing room only" crowd celebrating the 70th annivarsary of a "sit in" demonstration

Exhibit of First "Sit In" in US History courtesy of Office of Historic Alexandria, Black History Museum, a partner in planning the Library's 70th Anniversary of the 1939 Civil Rights Sit-In

Left to Right: Special Collections Manager George Combs, Director of Libraries Rose T. Dawson; Postmaster John Budzynski, and Alexandria Black History Museum Assistant Director Audrey P. Davis

Students from Samuel Tucker Elementary School re-enacting the Sit In

Student from Samuel Tucker Elementary about to take a bow after re-enactment

Friends and family of the five young men who participated in the Sit-In 70 years ago

 

An envelope celebrating the 70th Anniversary issued by Alexandria Postmaster John Budzynski

 


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