ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — Relatives of the Alexandria Library sit-in Protest of 1939 held a panel discussion on Monday and shared how the event and it’s legacy has impacted them.
“During those times it was interesting for me because my uncle Morris was one of the leaders in forming this sit-down,” said Stephen A. Martin, Nephew of sit-in protester Morris Murray. “It made a difference for us because now we are able to go into the libraries, and someone had to take that first step.”
Stephen Martin’s uncle, Morris Murray, along with William Evans, Edward Gaddis, Clarence strange, and Otto tucker were each charged for sitting down to read books at Alexandria public library, which was whites-only at the time. To the surprise of the descendants, those charges were dropped – and the announcement was made at Monday’s panel discussion.
“When they mentioned it, I thought it had been done,” Martin said. “And when I was told it hadn’t, I said ‘by all means go ahead and do it.’ I think they did it this morning. It just feels good to know they cleared his name and that’s what he wanted. “
Alexandria Library officials say the protester’s decision to take a stand has paved the way for the library to be accessible and equal for everyone.
“We’re celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Alexandria Library sit-in,” said Anton Murray, Senior communications Officer of Alexandria Libraries. It’s relevant to the community primarily because of the fact that African Americans during the ’30s were unable to use libraries and it’s very important to have this information for us as well as those around us.”