In celebration of Black History Month, the Gloucester Institute will offer a tour Feb. 19 of historic Holly Knoll in Gloucester, led by local historian Dr. Dorothy Cooke, Rep. Rob Wittman and other community leaders. The tour begins at 5 p.m., followed by a reception at 6 p.m.

The house was the retirement home of the late Dr. Robert Russa Moton, a civil rights leader whose life work was empowering African-Americans to lead self-sufficient lives.

Moton's mother, a former slave, secretly taught to him to read. He later worked in a lumber yard and saved enough money to attend Hampton Institute, where he met and was influenced by prominent black thinkers.

Moton was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in 1922. At that event he pledged: "With malice toward none, with charity for all, we dedicate ourselves and our posterity, with you and yours, to finish the work which he began, to make America an example for all the world of equal justice, equal opportunity for all."

After speaking, Moton returned to his seat in a separate, "colored only" section.

Moton retired in 1935 to Holly Knoll, a Georgian-style home on the bank of the York River. It is known as the home of the United Negro College Fund, and Martin Luther King wrote part of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech there.

Moton's invitation to "Come to Cappahosic" provided an opportunity for the greatest African-American thinkers and activists to debate and address issues of African-American advancement.

The home is now owned by the Gloucester Institute, whose mission is to continue the work of Dr. Moton by cultivating emerging leaders within the black community.

--Peggy Carlson

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