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Free Event Features Arlington Civil Rights Activist

by Katie Pyzyk — March 26, 2013 at 11:45 am 1,515 35 Comments

An Arlington resident lauded for her involvement in the civil rights movement during the 1960s, including a stint in jail, will be featured at a special free movie showing and panel discussion tomorrow (Wednesday).

The Arlington Public Library will host a free screening of the movie “An Ordinary Hero: The True Story of Joan Mulholland.” Following the film, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland and her son Loki, who wrote and directed the movie, will take part in a panel discussion. William Pretzer, senior curator of history at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, will also be a part of the panel.

Mulholland, who is white, grew up in the South during segregation and emerged as an activist who fought for the rights of others, much to the chagrin of her parents. In 1961, Mulholland flew to Jackson, MS, to take part in civil rights demonstrations and sit-ins. She was arrested, fined $200 and jailed for three months. Despite her punishment, Mullholland continued her activism, and in 1963 took part in the infamous sit-in at the Woolworth in Jackson, MS.

In some of the historic photos above, Mulholland can be seen at sit-ins and demonstrations that took place around Arlington from June 9-23, 1960. In one, she is sitting behind activist Dion Diamond (who was arrested later that day) at the Cherrydale Drug Fair store on June 10, 1960. The two were part of the Non-Violent Action Group (NAG), which is credited with helping to push most Arlington restaurants to desegregate on June 22, 1960.

Mulholland, a long time Barcroft neighborhood resident, later taught for almost three decades at Arlington Public Schools.

The film “An Ordinary Hero” tells Mulholland’s life story and contains rare footage from the civil rights movement. The film screening and panel discussion will take place at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27 at Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd).

Historic photos courtesy of Arlington Public Library and Flickr photostream by washington_area_spark

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