McKenney Library Sit-in, Petersburg, Virginia, Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker, William McKenney Library

The Beginning Of The Modern Civil Rights Movement In Petersburg, Virginia

March 7, 1960, the Modern Civil Rights Movement began in Petersburg, Virginia during the “McKenney Library Sit-in”. Before the protest began, Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker, one of the leaders of the sit-in, went to the front desk to ask for a copy of Robert E. Lee’s biography as a symbolic gesture. Soon after, forty African-Americans, led by Reverend Wyatt T. Walker and the other leader Reverend R.G. Williams, sat on all of the seats within the white section of the William R. McKenney Library, in order to protest the library system’s “whites only” policy.

Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker

This was the first library sit-in within the United States. and after this event other supporters of the civil rights movement were encouraged to begin a series of protests.

Author’s Note:

In 1958, Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker became one of the leaders of the Southern Christian Conference. Reverend Walker passed away in January 2018.

Fort Henry, Petersburg, Virginia

The Founding Of Petersburg, Virginia

On August 17, 1650, Edward Bland and Abraham Wood left Fort Henry to conduct the first documented English expedition to southwestern Virginia. Some of the areas known as Fort Henry, Virginia would later be known as Petersburg.

On December 17, 1748 the Virginia Legislature established Petersburg, Virginia as a city.

The Historic Petersburg Foundation has a timeline of the various events that occurred in the city.