Alexandria Black History

Resource Center

638 N. Alfred St., Alexandria


Imagine being told you can't read books in a public library because your skin is the wrong color. That's what happened to Samuel W. Tucker in 1939 at Alexandria's Queen Street Library. When he grew up and became a lawyer, Tucker challenged the library's "whites only" rule. He and other black friends sat down at the library and were arrested by police. Tucker attracted so much attention that Alexandria built a new (but separate) library for African Americans in this building. Alexandria's libraries gradually opened to everyone by the 1950s. An elementary school in Alexandria is named after the civil rights pioneer.

Tinner Hill Monument

540 S. Washington St.,

Falls Church

In most of the Washington area, black people and white people were not allowed to live in the same neighborhoods. In some places, however, they were neighbors. In 1915, the Falls Church Town Council passed a law saying no more African Americans could move into the white neighborhoods. Those who tried to move in could be fined. Joseph Tinner, a stone mason, organized a protest and hired a lawyer to fight the law. Eventually the town council said it would not enforce the law. Tinner also organized other activities to protect the rights of black people.

Samuel W. Tucker helped open libraries to African Americans.