Where the Past Is Present… Where the Arts Are Alive

Struggle in Fredericksburg

“KKK Records,” ca. 1920
Gift of Anonymous

BHM Sign

“Colonial Transit Bus Sign,” ca. 1950s
Gift of Charles G. McDaniel

BHM Window

“Pitts Victoria Theater Ticket Window,” ca. 1950s-1960s
Gift of Barry and Ruth Fitzgerald

In the 20th century, Fredericksburg was a place of racial tension.  With a significant African American population and strict laws governing racial segregation (Jim Crow laws), there are a number of artifacts from this darker period in history.  Among these include records provided for the Ku Klux Klan, with titles such as “America Our Nobleland” and “The Klansman’s Friend.” Fredericksburg’s Klan was chartered in 1924 to mixed public opinion; fortunately, there were never any violent episodes between Klansmen and those in the local African American community.  Later, as racial tensions became more pronounced in Fredericksburg, segregation was enforced in public spaces.  As a result, objects such as the Colonial Transit bus sign and the Pitts Victoria Theater ticket window became common fixtures in town, regulating where and how African American could use public resources.  These measures remained in place until the 1960s, as a patchwork of court cases across the country began to chip away at segregation laws, aided by several key Supreme Court decisions and the civil rights social movement.

Resources:

Fitzgerald, Ruth Coder. A Different Story: A Black History of Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania, Virginia. Fredericksburg, VA: Unicorn, 1979.

Strobel, Jennifer. “Before FRED, There Was Colonial Transit.” Free Lance-Star, February 10, 2001.