30-Day Challenge -- Alexandria Social Justice Edition!
Build your social justice muscles this summer! As our nation and city come to terms with their legacies of racial injustice, take the 30-Day Challenge to learn, listen, explore, and act to make positive change. Learn about our city’s important African American history to build your base of knowledge. Listen and explore to understand the struggles, triumphs, and legacies of African Americans across the nation and throughout the centuries. Act to bring equity in America and in Alexandria.
This challenge is issued through the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project (ACRP) and is based on the 21-Day Anti-Racism Challenge Bexley Anti-Racism Project. The ACRP is a City of Alexandria interdepartmental initiative managed through the Office of Historic Alexandria that is working to address social justice in our community. Active committees are made up of City staff, residents, faith leaders, and community organizations. Special thanks to the Alexandria Library for their assistance with this challenge.
30 Day Challenge
The Smithsonian Institution has two great resources to empower your anti-racism journey and inspire reflection and conversation. Reflect on your words and actions in light of these resources and start making a change!
Explore the Alexandria Community Remembrance Project page and learn more about Alexandria’s partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative. EJI challenges communities to overcome racial inequality by confronting their histories and the City of Alexandria is committed to this important project. These resources include more about how to be involved locally and nationally.
Watch An Outrage on the history of lynching in the American South. This documentary weaves the perspectives of descendants, community activists, and scholars and serves as both an education tool and a call to action.
The film is streaming free.
It is also at on-demand, where the promo code JULY will make it a rental free through August 10th.
Visit (with safe physical distancing) the Alexandria’s Waterfront Park to see Olalekan Jeyifous’ installation, Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies on view through November 2020. This installation features symbols representing Alexandria’s merchant and manufacturing past while acknowledging the integral role of enslaved and free Black men and women in the port’s history.
Can’t make it out in person? This important piece has been covered by a variety of news outlets. Here’s a very short selection.
Out of the Attic
Alexandria played a major role in perpetuating and expanding the domestic slave trade in the United States. Read the Smithsonian Magazine article “Retracing Slavery’s Trail of Tears” to learn more about the domestic slave trade. The forced march overland to New Orleans began at 1315 Duke Street, now the Freedom House Museum. While the museum is currently closed, visit its website to learn more about the people trafficked through Alexandria and Alexandria’s role in the domestic slave trade. Share something you learned on your social media channels.
August 5, 2020 at 7 PM (Advanced registration required.)
Join ACPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings and Georgetown Professor Dr. Douglas Reed as they unpack structural racism throughout the history of Alexandria’s education system and identify pathways toward equity in a post-pandemic world. Share this film with your friends and family and use this community discussion guide to spark meaningful conversations about lynching’s painful legacy and its reverberations in the present.
In 2019, the New York Times published the groundbreaking “1619” series. Listen to an episode from its companion audio series, hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, that examines the long shadow of American slavery.
August 10, 2020 at 7:00 PM (Advanced registration required and is limited to the first 15 people.)
Read Octavia Butler's Kindred and then join the virtual discussion hosted by Alexandria City Public Libraries. The first science fiction title written by a black woman, Kindred has become a cornerstone of black American literature. This combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction is a novel of rich literary complexity.
August 9, 2020 at 3:00 PM (Advanced registration required.)
Read one of the following suggested books and then join the virtual discussion hosted by Alexandria City Public Libraries. Suggested books include:
So you Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Donate your photographs and protest memorabilia to The Legacy of George Floyd collecting initiative through the Office of Historic Alexandria’s Black History Museum.
In June 1958, Mildred and Richard Loving were married in Washington, D.C. but only a month later, were arrested in Virginia and charged with miscegenation, a felony offense. The Lovings brought a suit against the Commonwealth for its ban on interracial marriage and by June of 1967, they received the news that the Supreme Court had decided the case unanimously in their favor. Learn more about this pivotal case through Encyclopedia Virginia and from Alexandria lawyer Philip Hirschkop who worked on the case.
August 8, 2020
Participate remotely in the August 8th Remembrance of Benjamin Thomas, Alexandria’s second known lynching victim. As part of this community reflection, share your thoughts, artwork, or creative writing after viewing the information on this In Memoriam page. Email your work to Historic Alexandria. Selections will be posted on the In Memoriam page.
The American Association of Anxiety and Depression (ADAA) is committed to promoting inclusion in mental health. Explore a broad variety of resources the ADAA posted for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Awareness Month in July.
Watch Rose Dawson, Executive Director of the Alexandria Library, interview Gladys Davis. Ms. Davis witnessed the 1939 Alexandria library sit-in, and she worked for the Alexandria Library system for over 60 years.
August 13, 2020 at 7:00 PM (Advanced registration required.)
Matt Harris, Chair of the Human Rights Commission, will discuss his experiences on the commission, his personal observations on race relations in Alexandria, and thoughts on how to knit our community together.
Read Oral Histories from Alexandria African Americans compiled by the Office of Historic Alexandria. Learn more about the everyday lives of Black men and women during various periods in Alexandria history. Hear stories of the dreams they fulfilled and the challenges they faced.
Think you’re not biased? Take this hidden bias quiz sponsored by Teaching Tolerance and learn more about yourself.
Honor the memories of African Americans who escaped slavery and took refuge in Alexandria during the Civil War. Watch the National Trust for Historic Preservation video The Forgotten: The Contraband of America and the Road to Freedom and then visit (with safe physical distancing) the Contrabands & Freedmen Cemetery Memorial.
Visit Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site. Widely known as one of the largest Union forts in the Defenses of Washington, this land also became home to “The Fort,” a community of formerly enslaved people who settled near the abandoned fort after the Civil War. While the Museum is closed, you can walk The Fort Heritage Trail (with safe physical distancing) and consider what this community meant to those who lived and worked here throughout its history. Share your thoughts on social media to raise awareness of this historic African American neighborhood.
August 18, 2020 at 4:00 PM (Advance registration required.)
August 25, 2020 at 4:00 PM (Advance registration required.)
Looking for ways for your little ones to explore themes of Equality, Justice, and Inclusion? Join the library’s two-part Virtual Pre-K Story Time, featuring “Woke: a young poet’s call to Justice” and celebrating ourselves and others in the books we all share.
Food insecurity impacts people of color at higher rates than the white population. Read the articles below to learn more about food disparities for people of color. Then make a donation to Alive - an Alexandria organization that has assisted with food insecurity since the 1960s.
Even in a prosperous city like D.C., many still go hungry, report finds
Where Eating Healthy Means Trekking Out Of A Food Desert
August 25, 2020 at 7:00 PM (Advanced registration required.)
Stephen Hammond, a descendant of Alexandrian William Anderson Syphax who was born enslaved and later purchased his and his family's freedom, will provide insight on the basics of African-American family history research and how it is different from other genealogy research. He will discuss the experience of researching his own family history and will share some of the interesting documents he has discovered along his journey.
Want to understand more about Juneteenth? Watch the Virginia Humanities webinar Self Preservation: A Juneteenth Online Conversation About Black Historic Preservation. Then listen to Audrey Davis, Alexandria Black History Museum’s Director, talk about the history of this significant date in American History.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed racial disparities in the African American community. Learn more about these inequities.
Watch Rose Dawson, Executive Director of the Alexandria Library, interview Barbara Ferguson. Ms. Ferguson was one of the first African American staff members at the Alexandria library.
Visit the Edmonson Sisters sculpture at 1701 Duke Street and learn more about their daring escape attempt on the schooner The Pearl and its Alexandria connection.
In 1939, a "sit-down strike" was staged by five young African-American men in the city’s segregated Queen Street Library. The young men were arrested for their act of civil disobedience, however the City responded to the African-American citizens demands for more access to educational opportunities. Watch footage from the sit-in descendants' program held in October 2019.
Take a walk (with safe physical distancing) along the trail in the African American Heritage Park. See a late-19th century African American cemetery, admire the sculptures by Jerome Meadows, and look across Hoof’s Run to Alexandria National Cemetery where over 200 troops from the US Colored Troops are buried.
September 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Parker-Gray School. Learn more about African American education in Alexandria by viewing two newly digitized collections online: Parker-Gray School and Carlton Funn. Read Alexandria native Mable T. Lyle’s book Caught Between Two Systems: Desegregating Alexandria’s Schools 1954-1973 to learn more about desegregation in Alexandria.
Visit your local library to open your horizons and get a new or replacement library card commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the Alexandria Library Sit-in. Newly ordered sit-in anniversary library cards will be made available to new and existing library account holders. Starting August 1, patrons may call, email, or come in to exchange their library cards. This is also available through curbside pickup.