An Approach To Petersburg, Virginia’s Civil Rights History

Petersburg was intimately involved in the civil rights struggle, during the period from 1960 to the 1970s. Petersburg’s past history will indicate that the city was one of the most segregated in the county, to include, public accommodations, education, voting rights, participation by blacks in political decisions and recognition of blacks as contributing citizens.

Recorded documentation of these conditions and related citizen involvement to eliminate them was very limited. This presentation seeks means to establish provisions and procedures to develop a documented, organized and archival informational system through which citizens, education institutions and youth will have access to Petersburg’s civil rights history and its impact on the City of Petersburg, State of Virginia, the United States, and its citizens.

This presentation will provide a positive impact about the quality of life which Petersburg’s citizens experienced and how quality of life has been improved as it exists today. By improving their understanding of how the environment in which they live came into being, will give a clear synopsis about the process many of its citizens had to use to secure certain rights which are enjoyed by all citizens today.

The presentation will provide a means of telling the story of a segment of the community which has been neglected until now. When completed, the civil rights history will explain how our city came to be what it is today. All of its citizens should feel proud of what a few had to experience in order for all to enjoy the rights and privileges that we have today. A healthy community exists when all its citizens understand how it has developed to where it is in today’s world. The project will provide the history which may be read, viewed and digested by all.

Mr. Wayne Crocker, Director, Petersburg Public Library has indicated involvement of the library in this project as follows: (1) To provide space for archiving information, audio tapes and video tapes (2) Web site host (3) Developing an internet site from the library (4) Storage space for audio and video equipment and other related equipment and materials (5) Packaging of CDs as required for storage and/or sale. Mr. Rocker also indicated that the Library has consented to serve as fiscal agent for the project.

This civil rights project committee has a number of Petersburg citizens who were directly involved in the struggle and who have been and will continue to be involved in the implementation process.