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This June, Fredericksburg has two wonderful events that will bring to light lesser-known aspects of African-American history. On Saturday, June 20, the library will join the Race Coalition’s celebration of “Juneteenth," the date in 1865 when news of the 13th Amendment finally reached the last slaves in Galveston, Texas, 2½ years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Despite the long delay, there was much cause for celebration, and many Juneteenth traditions have ensued. This year marks the 150th anniversary, and you are invited to celebrate! Enjoy inspirational and educational performances and activities to promote cross-cultural understanding, unity, and peace. Stop by the library’s table at the Juneteenth Celebration, Saturday, June 20, at noon at New City Fellowship, 200 Prince Edward Street, Fredericksburg, Va. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virginia’s Civil War history sometimes overshadows her Revolutionary past. In For Virginia and Independence, Dr. Ward shares fascinating, adventurous stories of soldiers, some local, whose deeds should be remembered. There’s Peter Francisco, the strongman immigrant soldier; Jack Jouett, Virginia’s Paul Revere; Anna Maria Lane, who dressed as a man and followed her husband into battle; and 25 more.
The year 2002 celebrated the 250th anniversary of the foundation of "George Washington's Mother Lodge." According to the authors of The History of Freemasonry in Virginia, "Fredericksburg Lodge No. 4 stands out as one of the brightest Lodges in the early history of Freemasonry in Virginia." Since 1752 it has maintained a continuous Masonic presence in Fredericksburg. Many of the town's prominent citizens have been members, and many of its prominent buildings have Masonic cornerstones.
Gladys Poles Todd, long-time Fredericksburg resident, died recently at the age of 101, having witnessed and been a part of the city’s changeover from its days of segregation. She lived to see schools and lunch counters integrated, and she was an important force behind making that happen. Among her many works, Mrs. Todd organized sit-ins, led voter registration drives, and supervised night study programs.
Her obituary gives a goodly number of details from her long and generous life, but you may also wish to read more about her in Fitzgerald’s A Different Story: A Black History of Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania.
In 1997, she and other local leaders in the Civil Rights era got together for a forum at the library to discuss those difficult days. Fortunately, the program, Civil Rights: Fredericksburg’s Story, was recorded in DVD format and can be checked out.
Besides a historic legacy to be shared by the community, Mrs. Todd also left a personal record of her life. Her oral history, part of HFFI’s Pieces of Our Past series, is available to read in the Virginiana Room of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.