With the passing of Rosa Parks, now seems like a good time to revisit a local episode in the history of civil rights that didn’t involve a march on the Mall.
So I was out at Glen Echo Park again yesterday, and while I was there, I picked up a card with an interesting looking photo on it. (Yes, I know Tom just posted about Glen Echo recently, but it’s the site we’ve chosen for our wedding reception, so you can suck it up and learn something.)
The photo is of a black college student in a tie, sitting on one of the park’s carousel horses (a carousel rabbit, actually), being confronted by a white security guard. The confrontation looks civil, mostly words being exchanged, and not even particularly heated ones at that, but it was the back of the card that told the story.
The student was Marvous Saunders, part of a group led by Lawrence Henry, a divinity student at Howard University. He lead a group of students in a series of peaceful protests around the DC area that summer of 1960, including a sit-in on the carousel in Glen Echo. The students were told to leave the park or face arrest, as the park (privately owned at the time) was only open to white people.
For the next 10 weeks, the surrounding community joined with the students in protests outside of Glen Echo. Finally, the owners of the park announced (without much fanfare) that it would be open to black people as well the following season.
You can read the Washington Post’s story about it from last summer here.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs