The National Park Service and the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum are pleased to announce the new mobile exhibit, “The Walls Come Down: Desegregation in the Fredericksburg Region.” The exhibit explores how desegregation took place in the schools of Spotsylvania (1963) and Stafford (1961) and at the lunch counters of Fredericksburg (1960). The premier took place at a public reception at the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center on June 21, 2018.
“The Walls Come Down” is a collaborative effort of the National Park Service, local educators, and several of those who participated in the desegregation efforts of the early 1960s. The exhibit will remain at John J. Wright into the fall, and then will be made available to travel through local middle and high schools, as well as other community organizations that wish to host it.
In the fall of 1963, seven African-American girls left the all-African-American John J. Wright Consolidated School to enroll at the formerly all-white Robert E. Lee Elementary School and Spotsylvania High School, starting a process of desegregation that would take five years to complete.
“We are thrilled to host the premier of this exhibit,” said Roger Braxton, member of the board of the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center. “The story of desegregation in the region, and especially in Spotsylvania, has rarely been told,” said Mr. Braxton. “It’s a story of courage and determination. The wisdom gained from the efforts of those girls, their families, and the community that supported them is enduring.” The seven girls have remained in contact over the years and participated in the development of the exhibit.
The National Park Service provided funding for the exhibit through its Civil Rights Initiative in 2016. Staff at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park coordinated the development of the display.
The John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum is located in the former John J. Wright Consolidated School in Spotsylvania County. Beyond the museum, John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center serves as Spotsylvania County’s center for Alternative Education. Approximately 200 students attend the school.
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park encompasses the sites of four major Civil War battles and more than a dozen historic structures. The park helps visitors explore the evolving nature of the American Civil War and its legacy in the United States and the world. Learn more at www.nps.gov/frsp.