Civil Rights Trail to be unveiled Thursday

February 17, 2023 | Community News | History & Museums, Tourism

The City of Fredericksburg on Thursday (Feb. 23) is set to unveil its Civil Rights Trail: “Freedom, a Work in Progress.” The three-mile walking trail guides participants through post-Civil War history, drawing together the stories – one never-before-heard testimony at a time – of Fredericksburg-area people and places that have helped shape the civil rights narrative.

Featuring Virginia historical markers – one at the first stop on the 1961 Freedom Rides journey that challenged segregation of interstate travel – the trail pulls together a saga of persecution and peril, power and promise. It chronicles court rulings and protests from the Jim Crow era to the Black Lives Matter movement, stopping at churches, cemeteries, markers, monuments and even a college campus.

From the site of a now-relocated slave auction block in the heart of downtown Fredericksburg to the businesses where history-making sit-ins took place, the experience tells the stories of educators, entrepreneurs, students and others determined to make a difference.

“Freedom, a Work in Progress” was spearheaded by two passionate individuals – one from the University of Mary Washington’s James Farmer Multicultural Center, one from Fredericksburg’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism – compelled to share a comprehensive story of the city’s civil rights past.

Years long in the making, the trail brings to light Black people’s struggle for justice and equality in a city that played a pivotal role in the Civil War.

The unveiling event for “Freedom, a Work in Progress” will take place at UMW’s Jepson Alumni Executive Center in Fredericksburg (1119 Hanover Street) at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23. The public is welcome, and no RSVP is necessary.

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