Civil Rights Pilgrimage a Personal Journey for Library Employees

We cannot forget that in order to make the impact in the space that we’re in, we have a responsibility to ourselves, and those around us, to keep ourselves completely immersed in and informed about the community that surrounds us.—Trayc Freeman

Fine Arts Library evening manager Trayc Freeman, ACRL Diversity Alliance Resident Librarian Sony Prosper, and Technical Lead for Library Digital Production Eze Amos  were among the UVA contingent traveling with the Charlottesville Civil Rights Pilgrimage to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL.

The group delivered a sample of earth from a site near Charlottesville that lynching victim John Henry James bled into one hundred and twenty years ago. The sample was transferred to a jar that bears James’ name with the place and date of his murder, and has been added to the Legacy Museum’s collection of samples from other lynching sites around the country.

During the journey, the Library employees have been a valuable source of news back home—Sony Prosper posting on Twitter @BaldwinBlue and Eze Amos on @ezeamosphotography. Trayc Freeman’s BLACKHISTORY blog provided in-depth commentary on the group’s day-by-day itinerary as it made stops at places important to the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

Along the way, Freeman slipped off for an unscheduled visit to North Carolina A&T and the University’s “powerful” memorial to four students who staged a 1962 sit-in at a “whites only” Woolworth lunch counter (the original lunch counter is preserved in the Greensboro International Civil Rights Center and Museum). She observed reactions to a “gruesome” lynching photo in the Charlotte, NC Levine Museum of the New South, and noted how the Sweet Auburn Historic District of Atlanta—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s childhood home—came about when a 1906 killing spree by a white mob “pushed Black businesses away from the downtown area.” She was shaken by items on display in Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church—shoes and a Bible belonging to twelve-year-old Carol Denise McNair, and a brick fragment taken from her skull after she and three other girls were killed by a bomb blast in the church basement in 1963.

For Freeman, who earned a B.A. at UVA in African American Studies, “this trip almost serves as a culmination of everything I’ve studied thus far.” She hopes to use her Master’s degree in Education Psychology “to discuss the ways society has continued to impact the education of Black students.”

Please visit Trayc Freeman’s BLACKHISTORY blog and learn more about the sites visited by the pilgrimage, and more about Black history and culture.

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