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 10am – 2pm 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. Visit www.librarysitin.org to read more about this human and civil rights history.