Post Content

New W&OD, cemetery signs explain county’s history of segregation

Graveyard for enslaved people at Bull Run Marina in Clifton (courtesy NOVA Parks, W&OD Railroad Collection)

NOVA Parks has installed two new signs to shed light on the effect of slavery and segregation in Fairfax County.

A new sign in Herndon Caboose Park explains how Jim Crow laws affected passengers on the Washington & Old Dominion train line in the 1900s. Another sign in Clifton describes the significance of a graveyard for enslaved people near Bull Run Marina.

W&OD Trail users can read about the segregationist laws that regulated the regional passenger train service during the 20th century, according to new research by NOVA Parks.

The new sign will be dedicated by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay on Saturday (Feb. 26).

“During Black History Month, it’s important to remember the tremendous challenges Black Americans faced in Fairfax, and to celebrate how far we’ve come while acknowledging we still have work to do in overcoming racial inequity,” McKay said. “We’re grateful to NOVA Parks for documenting this part of our shared history.”

A new sign along the W&OD Trail (courtesy NOVA Parks)

The W&OD Trail covers 45 miles from Shirlington to Purcellville on the former roadbed of the train line, which operated from 1857 to 1968.

At the time, trains provided the main form of public transportation, and Virginia law required separation of races in public places.

Passenger service on the train was discontinued in 1941, and the waiting room for Black passengers was converted into an office. When passenger service was reinstated in 1943 during World War II, Black and white passengers shared the same waiting room. This shared arrangement “bothered no one, since it was a small community, and everyone knew everyone else,” according to the book “Herndon: a Town and its History.”

“These signs recognize/acknowledge a painful part of our past, a time when laws were created to treat Blacks unequally,” NAACP Fairfax County President Karen Campblin said. “Although Jim Crow laws have been overturned, it’s important to remember what Black Americans have endured and to make sure that we are all treated with dignity and respect in the future.”

Identical signs have already been placed along the trail in Arlington and Loudoun counties.

“In order to foster a community that lives up to the vision of Dr. King’s ‘Beloved Community’ we in Fairfax must come to terms fully and honestly with our troubled past,” said Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano.

The new sign in Clifton stands near the likely site of a graveyard. NOVA Parks found five graves in 2020 using ground-penetrating radar. Each grave has a stone at the head and foot on an east-west axis, with the smaller footstone facing east.

“Historians believe the intention of this burial practice, seen in other graveyards of enslaved people, is to orient the bodies towards Africa in anticipation of resurrection and return home,” a NOVA Parks release states.

By the beginning of the Civil War, Virginia had 490,000 enslaved people — more than any other state, according to NOVA Parks. In 1860, there were 3,117 people enslaved in Fairfax County, about 28% of the entire county.

The signs are part of an effort by NOVA Parks to tell stories from Black history and are tied with a new theme in the NOVA Parks 2022-2027 Strategic Plan: Belonging.

The dedication of W&OD Trail sign will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. at Herndon Caboose Park (777 Lynn Street). The dedication of the sign at Bull Run Marina (12619 Old Yates Ford Road, Clifton) is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.

Recent Stories

A new self-storage facility appears likely to replace a soon-to-be-demolished, four-decade-old warehouse in Herndon. On Monday (Sept. 26), the Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved plans to construct a…

The Vienna Planning Commission made clear Wednesday (Sept. 28) that in concept, it’s in favor of redeveloping the Vienna Courts offices as duplex housing, but the lack of open space…

An October weekend once filled with fall events is starting to clear out, as Fairfax County braces for Hurricane Ian. The storm that devastated Florida after making landfall on Wednesday…

Morning Notes

Fare-Free Connector to Metrorail Transfers Start Tomorrow — “To continue to improve transit service in Fairfax County, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently approved service and fare changes on…

Are you tired of going to the gym? It might be the crowds, the locker room, waiting on equipment or the time it takes to commute to the gym.

Having a personal trainer come to your home will keep you accountable, save you time and allow you to workout in the comfort of your own home.

Skip the hassle of the gym and try our in-home personal training service.

Our services are reasonably priced, convenient, effective and are risk free.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Ending your marriage and living in the shadows of its pain is one thing, but when children (2 and 4 legged ones) are involved it’s not only about you. Divorce Mediation is the way to resolve the past and establish a solid, cooperative foundation to reorganize the relationship with your former partner. Everyone involved will benefit and you will gain peace-of-mind. Divorce Mediation is the cost effective way to negotiate your divorce and sign a Separation Agreement that is equitable and fair. 

Walid Jawad will facilitate the divorce process in a calm and thoughtful manner to help you establish the foundation for your next phase in life.  Walid’s 5-Star google reviews is a testament to his dedication to limiting divorcing couples’ stress during this intense transitional period.

Mediate your divorce virtually from the convenience of your kitchen table for $1,200 and save yourself the average Virginia cost of $15,000 per divorce and $22,000 with children. Make a complimentary appointment with Walid at Aether Mediation here: www.aethermediation.com

Submit your own Community Post here.

Reston Home Tour

Reston Museum’s 20th Reston Home Tour features homes include an award-winning modern masterpiece tucked back in a wooded oasis, a beautifully-landscaped personal “club house” offering amazing views of the golf course, a newly-renovated Reston Town Center townhouse with a water

Ravel Dance Company presents the Nutcracker Ballet

The Ravel Dance Company will present this holiday tradition for the 2nd year at the gorgeous Capital One Hall main stage. It is a wonderful way to start the holiday season. Follow Clara through her journey to the Pine forest,

×

Subscribe to our mailing list