The Library Sit-In of 1939: An Interview Series

Collage comprised of newspaper clippings from 1940 Washington Tribune, 1939 photo of the 5 sit-in protesters being escorted by police out of the library, and a 1933 yearbook photo of Samuel W. Tucker.
Graphic by Fabio Murgia; photos used with permission from the Alexandria Black History Museum and Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center; newspaper images from The Washington Tribune.
Aug. 31, 2023

For the past year and a half, New America has been conducting in-depth video interviews with researchers and community members in Alexandria, VA about the legacy of the library sit-in of 1939. Taking place well before the lunch counter sit-ins and bus boycotts of the 1950s and ‘60s, the sit-in led to the arrests of five young Black men for peacefully demonstrating their right to use the public library. This series explores the viewpoints and contributions of those with personal or professional connections to this event. Their reflections not only add to the historical record—they will also resonate with anyone experiencing today's education challenges. We hope they can help to deepen discussions of exclusion and inclusion in public libraries and schools.

--> See more about our larger project to illuminate this story for educators and the general public.

Related Topics
PreK–12 Education Racial Equity