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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Alexandria Library Sit-In

 
 
Alexandria Library Sit-In Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, February 28, 2015
1. Alexandria Library Sit-In Marker
Inscription. On 21 August 1939, five young African American men applied for library cards at the new Alexandria Library to protest its whites-only policy. After being denied, William Evans, Edward Gaddis, Morris Murray, Clarence Strange, and Otto L. Tucker each selected a book from the shelves, sat down, and read quietly. The men were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct despite their polite demeanor. Local attorney Samuel W. Tucker, who helped plan the protest, represented them in court. The judge never issued a ruling. In 1940, Alexandria opened the Robert Robinson Library for African Americans. Desegregation of the library system began by 1959.
 
Erected 2008 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number E-88.)
 
Location. 38° 48.457′ N, 77° 2.793′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of N. Washington Street and Queen St., on the right when traveling south on N. Washington Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 300 N, Washington St., Alexandria VA 22314, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lloyd House (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic Street (about 300 feet away, measured
Alexandria Library Sit-In Marker image. Click for full size.
By Don Morfe, February 28, 2015
2. Alexandria Library Sit-In Marker
in a direct line); Site of First Synagogue of Beth El Hebrew Congregation (about 300 feet away); Lodge No. 38, Independent Order of Odd Fellows (about 400 feet away); Home of Henry Lee (about 500 feet away); Lord Fairfax House (about 600 feet away); Site of Alexandria's First Sugar Refinery (about 600 feet away); Home of Edmund Jennings Lee (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Categories. African AmericansCivil Rights
 
The Alexandria Library - Kate Waller Barret Branch - at 717 Queen Street. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, October 15, 2013
3. The Alexandria Library - Kate Waller Barret Branch - at 717 Queen Street.
Site of the 1939 library sit-in described on the marker which is located around the corner on North Washington Street.
Alexandria Library Sit-In Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 3, 2015
4. Alexandria Library Sit-In Marker
looking southward along the North Washington Street sidewalk - with the Queen Street intersection visible in the background on the right.
The Alexandria Library 1794 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 1, 2015
5. The Alexandria Library 1794
Kate Waller Barrett Memorial Building 1937 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 1, 2015
6. Kate Waller Barrett Memorial Building 1937
The Kate Waller Barrett Branch of the Alexandria Library image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 1, 2015
7. The Kate Waller Barrett Branch of the Alexandria Library
Library the Scene of Human Rights Action image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 1, 2015
8. Library the Scene of Human Rights Action

A library is the collective memory of all humanity. Its contents are the common heritage of us all.

On August 21, 1939, five citizens of the city walked into this building and sat at one of its reading tables. Though surrounded by the wisdom of the ages, they were denied access to the thoughts on the shelves around them for a reason as implausible as the color of their skin. For merely being in the room, they were arrested.

The act of these five men in defying a discriminatory regulation was one of the earliest examples of a tactic successfully employed by a later generation to undermine racial segregation across the nation. This plaque is placed here so that the names of these five courageous citizens — William Evans, Otto Tucker, Edward Gaddis, Morris Murray and Clarence "Buck” Strange — will forever remain a part of the collective memory of out community.

In commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Human Rights Ordinance of the City of Alexandria, March 25, 2000.

Plaque in the Kate Waller Barrett Branch of the Alexandria Library
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 5, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234. This page has been viewed 798 times since then and 77 times this year. Last updated on April 30, 2015, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 5, 2015, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Md 21234.   3, 4. submitted on April 30, 2015, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on August 2, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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