Fredericksburg is nearly 300 years old and was established in 1728 by an act of the Virginia Legislature. History has become a popular attraction for tourists, according to Victoria Matthews of the city’s economic development department.
“We are George Washington’s boyhood home,” she says. Another great attraction of hers to people is the battlefields of the Civil War. There are 4 in the area. Many of the buildings in the city were also used as hospitals. American Red Cross founder Clara Barton came to Fredericksburg to nurse soldiers in Chatham Walt Whitman came down during the Civil War to write about his experiences in Fredericksburg We know that
And a few years ago, she started thinking about the role her community played. civil rights movement. After meeting Assistant Director Chris Williams, she contacted the Multicultural Center at the University of Mary Washington. The two were part of a group following the journey of the so-called Freedom Her Riders, who fought to desegregate interstate bus travel, making their first stop in Fredericksburg.
“After seeing what we saw in Birmingham, Alabama and how the history of civil rights played out, we spent about two hours talking about the possibilities we could have and what the trail might look like. We talked,” he recalls.
The Fredericksburg Trail features civil rights activist James Farmer, who taught at Mary Washington School for more than a decade. It tells the story of an enslaved man who crossed the Rappahannock River in 1862 to join the Union movement and his 12-year-old boy who, 100 years later, desegregated the local school.
“His mother said you needed to do this, so he went and did this by himself. He was the only black student in an all-white school for almost a year. It is not hard to imagine that the hostility and stigma he had to suffer is shared in his oral history.”
Williams has documented interviews with a number of elders who are people in their 90s who remember what happened in Fredericksburg, and the trail will eventually feature their voices.
“On the website and the so-called tramipse app,” Williams explains.
“There is a QR code associated with this tour,” adds Matthews. “People just click on that QR code and the trail appears on their phone.”
This tour tells the story of a brave teen whose all-black school was unable to accommodate its largest number of alumni, family, friends and faculty. Only whites used it until then, and the council said no.
The students pointed out that their parents were paying taxes, so officials agreed to let them use the center, but not the main entrance.
“You can use the side door,” he said.
“It pissed off the students,” says Matthews. “They protested in 1950. What’s interesting about it is their bravery, because this was before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, before Emmett Till, before Selma. This happened in Fredericksburg.” It was a very early protest.”
Finally, the graduation ceremony was held at Shiloh Baptist Church on the trail. Many civil rights leaders stopped by and more than 200 parishioners welcomed them.
Williams says timing for this new trail is critical given current events.
“It’s important to get these stories out in the open, especially when we look at what’s happening nationally, because we know that black history isn’t being told and devalued. is.”
the name of the trail Freedom – a work in progressA ceremony to mark the official opening of the school is scheduled for 2:00 pm today at the Mary Washington Campus and is open to the public.