Deep in My Heart: The Rise of Jim Crow in Central Virginia, 1865-1954

In Legacy’s current exhibit, KKK robes, family photographs, and a variety of racially marked items, from a tax receipt to a restroom door, will document the way segregation shaped the lives of Central Virginia’s African Americans from birth until death.
“Deep in My Heart: The Rise of Jim Crow in Central Virginia, 1865-1954″ will open to the public on Sunday, June 26, 2-4 p.m. Admission on opening day is free.
In Legacy’s current exhibit, KKK robes, family photographs, and a variety of racially marked items, from a tax receipt to a restroom door, will document the way segregation shaped the lives of Central Virginia’s African Americans from birth until death.

The exhibit’s main title quotes a phrase from “We Shall Overcome,” often called the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. The 2005-2006 exhibit deals with the Jim Crow era. The 2006-2007 exhibit, subtitled “The Fall of Jim Crow in Central Virginia, 1954-1975,” will open in June of 2006 and will portray Central Virginia’s Civil Rights Movement.

“The Rise of Jim Crow” covers the years from Emancipation until the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The exhibit will explain the legal basis for racially discriminatory practices and will explore the customs and attitudes that constructed education, civic life, voting, public accommodations, housing, employment, and military service for African Americans in the city of Lynchburg and the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, and Campbell.

Guest curator for “Deep in My Heart” is Dianne Swann-Wright, who also guided Legacy’s two previous exhibits. Swann-Wright is founding curator of the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park in Baltimore and was formerly director of African American and special programs at Monticello.

Swann-Wright will hold a workshop for area teachers on Thursday, September 29, at 4:30 p.m. at the Museum. The workshop will train teachers of upper elementary grades through high school, so that they can use the exhibit to help prepare their students for SOL exams in social studies.

Two other specialists in African American history have been assisting Swann-Wright. They are Lauranett Lee, curator of African American history at the Virginia Historical Society, and Jacqueline Walker, associate professor of African American history at James Madison University.

Betsy Johnson-Whitten, who has worked with Legacy since before the Museum opened in 2000, will design and install “Deep in My Heart.” Johnson-Whitten is a consultant for the Lynchburg Museum System and arts program coordinator for the University of Virginia Health System.

These professionals have based their work on months of research and collecting by Legacy’s volunteer collectors. They include Cordelia Alexander, Carolyn Bell, Carolyn Brown, Clarence Brown, Cornelia Campbell, Frances Carter, W.E. Clark III, Barbara Cofield, Ted Delaney, Joyce Dixon, Gloria Franklin, Cynthia Hall, Claudette Haskins, Shirley Johnson, Alice Mabry, Ora McCoy, Toni Pate, Annie Pinn, Emmie Spencer, Willie Thornhill, and Elaine Watson.

In addition to locating artifacts, the collectors have conducted oral history interviews that draw from the memories of Central Virginians, white and African American alike, who vividly recall the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras. Selections from the oral histories will help visitors to understand the personal implications of these significant periods in American history. Visitors will also be able to interact with the exhibit by writing and posting their comments and reflections.

“Deep in My Heart” marks the fifth anniversary of Legacy’s opening. Since 2000 the Museum has presented year-long exhibits on health and medicine, the black church, and African American business enterprise, as well as two exhibits on the education of Central Virginia’s African Americans.

The upcoming Jim Crow and Civil Rights exhibits allude explicitly to the painting that inspired the Legacy Project, Ann van de Graaf’s “Lord, Plant My Feet on Higher Ground.” The painting, which hangs in the stairwell of the Museum, portrays local African Americans whose civil rights activities began to dismantle segregation.

“Deep in My Heart” is supported by grants from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Community Development Block Grants program of the City of Lynchburg.

This entry was posted in 2006, Exhibits, Newsletters. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>