Living History in Richmond

Today is the nonMuslims 4th of July holiday which also means a break in the weekly schedule for us as my husband is off and Yahya has a break from his leadership institute. So, I thought I would take advantage of the blink in time to jot down the events of the program this week.

Yahya’s program has been just such a wonderful opportunity and we are so grateful he was chosen to participate, maashaa Allah. He was a bit surprised the first day of the program to find that all the students as well as the teachers were African American. This is his first experience in an all black setting, maashaa Allah. I was really unsure of what the course covered as I didn’t receive a full agenda until after the second day of the program. They have been discussing, exploring, and learning about the historic area of Richmond called Jackson Ward where the Maggie L. Walker National Historic site is located. This part of town is historically called the “Black Wall Street of America” and the “Harlem of the South.” It was considered the center of black commerce and entertainment after the Civil War from 1871 to 1905.

During the first week, the participants visited the upscale historic restaurant, Mansion526, where they were treated to a traditional meal of fried chicken, waffles, and sweet potatoes. They also took a tour of historic Jackson Ward where they discovered the historic Hippodrome Theater and the home of Maggie L. Walker. Historic Jackson Ward was also central to the Civil Rights movement in Richmond. Tomorrow they are planning on taking a field trip to the Moton Museum in Farmville, VA. The Moton Museum is the site of the former Moton High School which is Virginia’s sole National Historic Landmark of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. The student’s strike in 1951 set in motion the events leading up to Brown v. the Board of Education. It honors the courage and sacrifice of Prince Edward County, Virginia students and families, and their leading role in moving America from segregation toward integration. Yahya was familiar with this landmark as he had been assigned a book called Students on Strike: Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Brown, and Me a memior by John A. Stokes as one of the winter reads of his school. In fact his school owns and uses daily one of the desks of the famous African American lawyers, Oliver Hill, who was one of the plaintiff attorneys in the Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County. He actually used the very desk in his practice in Jackson Ward. This is incredible- living history at it’s finest!

students on strike

Insha Allah, I plan on updating the rest of the program next week as they have much more planned.

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