A new book tells the battles of integration at a Virginia library


On a December day in 1956, a husband-and-wife crew of inside designers was named Samuel And Josie Murray They entered the general public library on East Most important Avenue in Purcellville, Virginia. They had been on the lookout for details about European model window therapies for a job they had been doing on a house Mabel Francis “Mike” Moorethe primary girl Mamie Eisenhower sister.

The librarian informed the Murrays that they may not take a look at any books, explaining that the Purcellville Library didn’t supply this privilege to African American residents like themselves. She referred to them Oscar Emerickthe white man who chaired the library’s board of administrators.

Emerick believed that permitting blacks to overview books “wouldn’t be within the spirit” of the residents who based the library. He provided to take a look at a guide beneath his identify for Moraes to make use of.

This they refused. As Samuel Murray later defined to a reporter, “If I do not pay taxes, they’re going to promote my home. Since I pay my taxes, I felt I ought to get use of the guide from the library, which is paid for by my taxes.”

Shameful episode informed in new guide, Desegregating Northern Virginia Libraries Chris Barbuschak And Suzanne S. Lapierre Revealed by Historical past Press.

The authors are librarians of the Fairfax County Public Library who specialise in Virginia historical past. Their guide spark was supplied by Sujata Hampton, an officer with the Fairfax NAACP. After being appointed to the Fairfax Library Board of Trustees, Hampton requested the query: Have county libraries ever been segregated?

For years, county librarians have been responding to such inquiries based mostly on solutions given by library officers within the Nineteen Sixties to an undergraduate scholar researching discriminatory library practices within the South. Fairfax County has at all times answered its questionnaire by saying that libraries have been open to all since 1939, the 12 months the county’s free public library system was established.

“We dug in and found that wasn’t the case,” Barbuschak stated.

What was the matter? Throughout Virginia, it was a irritating combination of outright prohibition, “separate however equal” amenities, and spotty integration adopted by normal demeanor indicating that blacks weren’t welcome within the library.

In 1960, after black teenagers in Danville, Virginia protested the city’s whites-only Accomplice memorial library, officers launched a library card utility that was 4 pages lengthy and required two private references and two credit score references. Library furnishings was eliminated so that individuals of various races couldn’t sit subsequent to one another.

In terms of denying some residents alternatives, the Taliban in Afghanistan don’t have anything to do with white supremacists in America.

“There are undoubtedly elements of the guide that do not make you happy with the library occupation,” stated LaPierre.

County library programs—versus libraries based by non-public benefactors or communities—started to emerge in Northern Virginia within the Nineteen Thirties. Segregation was so effectively established on the time that bookstores may boast of being open to “everybody” with out mentioning African Individuals. Everybody would have identified what “everybody” meant: any white individual.

The minutes of an early assembly of the Fairfax Library Board of Trustees included a notice: “Books meant and marked for readers of coloration is not going to be accessible to white readers, and vice versa.” In 1941, the bookcart serving the county had 46 service stops. Solely two of these had been in black neighborhoods.

In lots of counties, the one libraries blacks may use had been black excessive colleges. These amenities had been inferior, with fewer books than the white libraries. Most of the books had been in poor situation.

The guide outlines the combination timeline for every county, together with developments within the notably racist group libraries in Vienna and Falls Church. It showcases the efforts of black residents to inventory libraries and black activists to deal with inequality.

Within the case of the Purcellville Library in Loudoun County, Samuel Murray contacted a number of attorneys earlier than discovering one who would deal with his case. Lawyer Oliver E Stone He wrote to the librarians, explaining {that a} library that accepts public funds should be open to the general public. Metropolis council member Thomas J Hatcher Counsel an answer: lower public funds. Hatcher stated he worries that breaking down one racial barrier may result in the breaking down of one other.

On March 21, 1957, the Library Board voted 7-5 in favor of the merger. The Loudoun board voted to proceed funding the library. Over the course of the argument, the Murrays suffered intimidations, together with from the vice metropolis, who sooner or later led a 15-car caravan previous their dwelling, horns blaring.

Lapierre stated that engaged on the guide satisfied her of one thing: “Progress does not occur simply because time passes. Progress occurs when individuals take motion to make issues higher.”

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