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Arts Focus: Arlington donates commemorative civil rights prints to the Library of Congress

Photo via Arlington Arts

This column is sponsored by Arlington Arts/Arlington Cultural Affairs, a division of Arlington Economic Development.

In honor of Black History Month, Arlington County announces the donations of Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.’s Arlington’s Lunch Counter Sit-ins commemorative print portfolio (2019-2022) to the Center for Local History, Arlington Public Library, and the Library of Congress.

These prints honor the 60th anniversary of the seven lunch counter sit-ins in Arlington between June 9-22, 1960. The landmark sit-ins were peaceful protests that challenged widespread segregation policies. Each print showcases a quote from a participant at each of the seven sit-in locations. One set of prints will be on view at Bozman Government Center Library, when the library is scheduled to open in March 2023.

The Arlington lunch counter sit-ins preceded the more widely remembered protests at Maryland’s then segregated Glen Echo Amusement Park, which began on June 30, 1960, but both in initiatives were organized by Howard University’s student-led Nonviolent Action Group (NAG). The group’s success in Arlington (lunch counters ended segregation just 13 days after the sit-ins) inspired the students to persevere in further efforts.

Glen Echo Park’s owners finally desegregated the amusement park in March 1961 after then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy threatened to pull the federal government’s lease on the land where the amusement park ran a trolley. Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.’s prints remind us of the importance of peaceful protest and Arlington’s role.

“Posters have been a part of our culture since the dawn of printing. Initially called “broadsides,” they informed the citizens of proclamations, political views and manifestos. The Declaration of Independence is a broadside”, says the Artist in his article in the latest issue of Library of Congress Magazine. “By the mid-19th century, they had become inexpensive, mass-produced ephemera that we call posters.”

To read Amos Kennedy, Jr.’s full article, “Art For the Masses: Poster Collections at the Library of Congress,” on page 28-29 of the LOC Magazine, click here. For more detailed information about Arlington’s historic lunch counter sit-ins, follow this link.

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