July 13, 2020

Historian David Marsich to Present for St. George’s 300th Anniversary Lecture Series (Fredericksburg Today)

UMW, City working to place historical marker at downtown site of Freedom Riders first stop (The Free Lance-Star)

UMW Community Works with City on Freedom Rides Historical Marker

Last fall, UMW students and city residents retraced the route of the Freedom Rides, the historic protest to desegregate interstate travel, organized by James Farmer. Members of the UMW community are working with the City to establish a historic marker on the site of the old bus station in Fredericksburg, the Freedom Riders' first stop on their 1961 trip. Photo by Lynda Allen.

Last fall, UMW students and city residents retraced the route of the Freedom Rides, the historic protest to desegregate interstate travel, organized by James Farmer. Members of the UMW community are working with the City to establish a historic marker on the site of the old bus station in Fredericksburg, the Freedom Riders’ first stop on their 1961 trip. Photo by Lynda Allen.

James Farmer Multicultural Center Assistant Director Chris Williams, Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin and Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation Christine Henry were interviewed in The Free Lance-Star about their efforts to work with the City of Fredericksburg to establish a Virginia state historical marker at the site of the old bus station where the Freedom Riders stopped first in their quest to desegregate interstate transportation in 1961. The station formerly stood on the corner of Princess Anne and Wolfe streets, near where the fire station is now.

Some of the riders were arrested in North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi. In Anniston, Ala., a mob of Ku Klux Klan members slashed the bus’s tires as it attempted to leave the terminal, and later threw a firebomb at it.

UMW students and staff and community members visited the field where the bombing occurred last fall, as part of a trip recreating the journey of the Freedom Riders.

“To our surprise, there was no marker out there. No historical marker saying that right here, the original 13 Freedom Riders were fire-bombed,” said Chris Williams, assistant director of UMW’s James Farmer Multicultural Center, which organized the trip. “I was enraged and so were the students.”

Back home in Fredericksburg, Williams was still thinking about ways the story of the Freedom Riders and James Farmer could be told better—and that led to the idea of placing a highway marker at the site of the old bus station.

Williams, Devlin and Henry, in partnership with the City of Fredericksburg, have started the process of applying for the marker from the state Department of Historical Resources. Read more.

Jim Crow in the Great Outdoors (withgoodreasonradio.org)

Devlin Discusses Segregation in National Parks on ‘With Good Reason’

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Assistant Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin will be featured on an episode of ‘With Good Reason’ radio on WVTF Radio IQ beginning on Saturday, March 21. Devlin is working with Shenandoah National Park and four others throughout Virginia to examine the painful past and legacy of segregation in the parks and wilderness spaces and initiate more inclusive practices. Contracted by the National Park Services, she’s currently leading a unique study that will provide a more comprehensive picture of segregation in the parks through archival research and oral histories of those who experienced it. Once finished, the project will be used to develop more installations and resources – such as the one Devlin and her students recently completed at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park – that tell the stories of African American visitors to our national parks.

With Good Reason airs Sundays at 2 p.m. on Fredericksburg’s Radio IQ 88.3 Digital and at various times throughout the week on stations across Virginia and the United States. Check the website for show times.

Study Seeks to Document the History of National Park Segregation and its Lasting Effects (WVTF)

Devlin Interviewed about National Parks Segregation Study on WVTF

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Assistant Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin was interviewed by WVTF 88.3 Radio IQ about her study on segregation in Virginia’s national parks, commissioned by the National Park Service with the Organization of American Historians:

She’s poured over planning documents, blueprints, and maps in the hopes of understanding how segregation was implemented at the park. She’s built a whole filing cabinet full of sources. One drawer holds documents relevant to the state of Virginia, which resisted federal efforts to desegregate.

That evidence of segregation is right in front of park visitors all over Virginia, it’s just a matter of seeing it. “There are some picnic tables that are in an open meadow and there are other picnic tables that are in a shaded wood,” Devlin notes. “And that is a product of, in some cases, this legacy of planning for segregation and that there was a desire to tuck away African-American visitors in quiet corners of the parks.” Read more.

Devlin Comments on Segregation in Shenandoah National Park in Outside Online

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin

Erin Devlin, assistant professor of history and American studies, was interviewed in an article on OutsideOnline.com entitled “Shenandoah National Park Is Confronting Its History.” She discussed her research into sites in national parks in Virginia that were associated with segregation during the first half of the 20th century.

“‘Basically, the park was segregated on an ad hoc basis,’ says Erin Devlin, associate professor of history and American studies at the University of Mary Washington, who is leading the study of the five national parks in Virginia. African American visitors wrote letters of complaint both to the park and the Department of the Interior, reporting that rangers told them certain areas of the park were off-limits to them. Some white visitors also wrote letters to the National Park Service, arguing that this kind of race-based practice was un-American. But the policies continued.” Read more. 

UMW Invites Community on Freedom Rides Bus Tour, Oct. 12-15

UMW is inviting community members to caravan along with students on its “Social Justice Trip: Freedom Rides Tour,” which will take place Oct. 12 through 15.

UMW is inviting community members to caravan along with students on its “Social Justice Trip: Freedom Rides Tour,” which will take place Oct. 12 through 15.

Will you get on the bus?

The University of Mary Washington is inviting members of the Fredericksburg community to join students on a trip of a lifetime. The Freedom Rides Tour – set to take place Saturday, Oct. 12, through Tuesday, Oct. 15 – traces the route of the history-changing 1960s bus rides across the American South. The social justice experience celebrates Dr. James L. Farmer Jr., the late civil rights icon and Mary Washington history professor, and his signature movement to enforce the desegregation of interstate travel.

Coordinated by UMW’s James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC) and the office of the Vice-President for Equity and Access, the tour is being coordinated in conjunction with UMW’s yearlong 2020 celebration of the 100th anniversary of Dr. Farmer’s birth. Read more. 

Honor James Farmer and Follow the Freedom Rides with UMW

UMW faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and neighbors are invited to join our students as they celebrate the legacy of Dr. James L. Farmer, Jr., on the Freedom Rides Tour, a social justice trip commemorating Farmer’s signature movement to enforce the desegregation of interstate travel.

The alumni/community bus will caravan with the student bus and follow the exact route of the Freedom Riders. Stops will include some of the same places the Freedom Riders stopped–whether to speak with other activists at Bennett College in North Carolina, to strategize for next steps in Georgia, or just to have a safe place to sleep for the night. Along the way, we will visit the International Civil Rights Museum in North Carolina, the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum in Alabama, and the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change and the Atlanta University Center, both in Georgia.

Learn more about the sites, history, and experiences of the Freedom Rides and other significant landmarks and trailblazers of the Civil Rights movement. See the spot where the Freedom Riders were attacked by the KKK. Visit Martin Luther King, Jr’s birth home. It promises to be a meaningful and impactful journey. We will be joined on the trip by Dr. Erin Devlin, assistant professor of history and American studies, and Dr. Marion Sanford, director of multicultural affairs at the James Farmer Multicultural Center, who will add commentary and context to the trip.

We hope you’ll get on the bus!

Saturday, Oct. 12-Tuesday, Oct. 15
Departing from and returning to UMW’s Fredericksburg Campus

This event is being coordinated by UMW’s James Farmer Multicultural Center and the office of the Vice-President for Equity and Access in conjunction with UMW’s 2020 celebration of the 100th anniversary of Dr. Farmer’s birth.

Dr. Farmer was a dedicated civil rights activist, educator and UMW professor, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He co-founded one of the most important civil rights organizations of the 20th century, CORE (Congress of Racial Equality). Dr. Farmer personified UMW’s founding and continuing commitment to be a force for positive change, educating citizens who are ready and eager to address our society’s greatest challenges.

SEE ITINERARY, COSTS, AND REGISTRATION