The Walls Come Down

The John J. Wright Educational & Cultural Museum has an exhibit called ‘The Walls Come Down: Desegregation in the Fredericksburg Region.’

A forum this weekend in Spotsylvania County focused on desegregation will include some notable guests.

On Saturday, the National Park Service and the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum will host a “public conversation about a pivotal period in the region’s history,” the park service said in a news release.

The event will be held at noon in the John J. Wright building at 7565 Courthouse Road.

The guests will be seven African-American women who as girls in 1963 took the historic step of being the first to integrate formerly all-white Spotsylvania public schools.

The Park Service said their actions “started a process of desegregation in Spotsylvania County that would take five years to complete.”

On Saturday, “those women will come together again for the first time in a public forum to reflect on their experiences 55 years ago—what it meant for their lives and that of the schools, community, and nation,” the Park Service said.

John Hennessy, chief historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, will moderate the forum.

Roger Braxton, member of the cultural center’s board of directors, said in the release that much can be learned from the women’s experiences.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet a group of women who helped change the world just a bit,” Braxton said. “We will get a chance to explore what some of those who made history now think of their experience, and what lessons we can all learn from it. The event is a celebration of courage, determination, and accomplishment.”

The forum coincides with an exhibit, “The Walls Come Down: Desegregation in the Fredericksburg Region,” which has been on display at John J. Wright since this summer.

The seven women who will attend the forum figure prominently in the exhibition.

The forum and exhibit are free and open to the public.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436 sshenk@freelancestar.com

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