Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Barrett Library/Black History Museum
The Alexandria Library's Kate Waller Barrett Branch (2 blocks north, 1 block east) and the Alexandria Black History Museum (6 blocks north) have an unusual shared history. The library building was constructed in 1938 and named for Dr. Kate Waller Barrett, a noted Alexandria resident and national social activist. But at the time of its construction, public facilities in Alexandria were segregated and African Americans, whose taxes helped to support the library, were not permitted to use the new facility.
The following year, decades before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, 26 year-old Alexandria attorney Samuel Wilber Tucker organized a small group of African American men to participate in what is believed to be the first "sit-down" demonstration in the United States. On August 21, 1939, five young, well dressed African American men entered the library and requested library cards. When their requests were denied, they each took a book from the stacks, sat down and started to read. The men participating in the quiet, non-violent demonstration were soon arrested, but as police removed them from the building, Tucker had cleverly arranged for press photographers to be on the sidewalk outside, thereby assuring national coverage.
As a result of these actions, the city built the segregated and clearly unequal,
Erected by City of Alexandria.
Location. 38° 48.323′ N, 77° 2.947′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of King Street (Virginia Route 7) and North Alfred Street, on the right when traveling west on King Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Friendship Firehouse (a few steps from this marker); Friendship Fire Company (within shouting distance of this marker); Christ Church (about 300 feet away, measured Dr. Bernard Stier, O.D. (1930-2005) (about 400 feet away); Site of Alexandria's First Sugar Refinery (about 400 feet away); The Alexandria Lyceum (about 600 feet away); George Washington Memorial Parkway (about 600 feet away); Timberman Brothers (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
Categories. • African Americans • Charity & Public Work • Civil Rights • Women •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 2, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 31, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 53 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 31, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.