Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site: Matinees with Miss Maggie

Where in the World - Virginia Breezin'

Richmond 34 and other African-American Activists Featured During Black History Month

Richmond, VA – On February 22, 1960, thirty-four black college students were arrested for sitting at a lunch counter at Thalhimers department store in downtown Richmond, Va.  Their charge was trespassing - African Americans were not allowed at the white-only lunch counters. The group became known as the “Richmond 34” and their actions led to the desegregation of downtown Richmond - a major Civil Rights victory.  

Two of the 34 students will discuss their story as part of a Saturday program series offered by Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site to commemorate Black History Month in February. Entitled “Matinees with Miss Maggie,” the film and lecture series will explore African-American life in Richmond and Virginia and the tragedies, triumphs, strength, and the courage of the Richmond 34 and others who struggled for equality.

The free film series will take place at 1:00 p.m. every Saturday in February at the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site in the park’s visitor center at 600 N. 2nd St., in Richmond. Each week, a different film will be featured, examining the lives of African Americans in Virginia from the Civil War to the modern Civil Rights Movement, exploring the National Park Service theme for the Civil War Sesquicentennial: Civil War Through Civil Rights.  Following each film, guest speakers will share their knowledge and experiences related to the topic.

February 2: “Our Inspiration: The Story of Maggie Lena Walker”

. The series begins February 2 with “Our Inspiration: The Story of Maggie Lena Walker.” Born in 1864, Walker triumphed as an entrepreneur and community activist in Jim Crow Richmond. Following the film, Executive Producer and Director William Sydnor will share his journey of discovering Walker’s life and legacy while making the documentary.

February 9: “Harlem Renaissance”. On February 9, visitors will watch legendary performers Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Count Basie and many more perform classics in the documentary “Harlem Renaissance.” Following the film, NPS Park Guide and musician Ben Anderson will explore the music of the Harlem Renaissance and its influence on Richmond’s Jackson Ward, nicknamed "Harlem of the South."

February 16: “The Road to Brown”. On February 16, “The Road to Brown” explores the brilliant legal campaign that led to the landmark 1954 Brown v Board of Education case. After the film, Edwilda Issac and Joy Cabarrus will describe the 1951 student protest they were part of at Moton High School in Farmville, VA. When the all-white school board denied funds to the overcrowded all-black Moton, students led a protest. Their actions led to a legal case which was combined with others into Brown v. Board of Education. 

February 23: “February One”

. On February 23, the documentary “February One” shares the story of four young college freshmen who began a sit-in movement at the Greensboro North Carolina Woolworth to protest the store 's segregated lunch counters. Following the film, members of the Richmond 34, Dr. Leroy Bray and Elizabeth Rice, as well as Dr. Raymond Hylton, Stephanie Hooks, and Lamar Dixon will share the courageous story of the Richmond 34 and the impact of the Richmond sit-in movement.

“These stories help illustrate who we are as a nation and as a community,” said park superintendent David Ruth. “They inspire all of us to continue the legacy of Maggie Walker and so many others who have worked for social justice and equality. We are thrilled to be able to offer this program.”

The Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, home of the first African-American woman in the United States to become president of a chartered bank, has been a National Park site since 1978.  A national activist for the rights of African Americans and women, Maggie Walker also inspired young people to learn self-discipline, self-help, and selflessness, and groomed young leaders who knew the importance of helping others and their communities.  Guided tours of her restored home, located in historic Jackson Ward, are given by National Park rangers. The park visitor center is open Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Additional information is available at 804-771-2017, or on the web at or

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