Photographer Russell “Rip” Payne (1916-1990) captured this historic moment one afternoon as children left an integrated public school for the first time in Charlottesville. Like most of the former Confederate South in the wake of the May 17, 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, white leaders in Virginia pledged a protest of “massive resistance” against any effort to desegregate public schools.  On September 19, 1958, rather than accept integration, Virginia Governor Lindsay Almond ordered the all-white public schools closed in select communities, which included the City of Charlottesville. The move attracted national press attention. It was not until September 8, 1959, owing to a court order, that the schools were at last desegregated and children of color began to attend the formerly all-white schools in Charlottesville: nine at Venable Elementary and three at Lane High School, known collectively as “the Charlottesville Twelve.”
Historic and Cultural Exhibits Program
For more than half a century, we have been actively committed to an engaging, vibrant exhibits program, exploring the history and culture of Central Virginia. Beginning in 1994, when we took up residence in the historic McIntire Public Library building on Second Street downtown, we stepped up this effort by filling our Great Hall with any number of important and ground-breaking collections, every single one of which has been free and open to the public. Our first exhibit that year invited guests to explore the fascinating heritage of Jewish life and culture here in our region. We have offered a number of exhibits about African-American history as well, the stories of Greek and Irish immigration to Charlottesville, art and architecture, businesses, education, medicine, and so much more. We continue to offer regular exhibits here in our Great Hall, and at times in various new locations throughout Central Virginia. Please check the Calendar for scheduling information, read the Blog and follow us on Facebook for all the latest updates.

Exhibits: Past Presentations

Summer and Fall of 2018: Gone ButNot Forgotten

In partnership with the Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery, we are currently offering “Gone But Not Forgotten: Unearthing Memories at Daughters of Zion Cemetery.” This must-see exhibit now on display in our Main Hall explores the fascinating stories of people interred in one of the first public, African-American cemeteries in this part of the South, first established in 1873 near downtown Charlottesville. The exhibit also includes detailed information about the efforts to preserve the historic grounds, as well as to conduct archaeological research in the area. This free exhibit will be on display during our regular business hours here in our main building through the Fall of 2018. Click here to plan your visit.

Opening September 2018: Ed Roseberry's Charlottesville!

This free exhibit showcases dozens of classic photographs from the Roseberry Collection, and includes detailed historic captions for every image. Known to generations of his friends as “Flash,” Ed Roseberry (born 1925) continues to be one of Virginia’s most celebrated and accomplished photographers. His iconic and award-winning work spans more than seven decades, and has focused on the people, events and scenes of Charlottesville, Albemarle and the University of Virginia. “Ed Roseberry’s Charlottesville” is on display for free at The Nook Restaurant on the Downtown Mall.

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