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On June 6, 1950, the African-American senior graduating class of Walker-Grant High School, as well as around three hundred others, gathered outside of the Fredericksburg Community Center to protest how the city treated the school, which requested permission to use the center for the seniors' graduation ceremony. The city refused but then allowed the school to use the building as long as everyone entered and left through the back door. The seniors and school rejected this and they decided to protest in response. From the community center, the students and protesters marched to Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) where the ceremony was held. A historical marker describing the protest is located here in front the Dorothy Hart Community Center.

This historical marker is located in front of the Dorothy Hart Community Center. It commemorates a protest in 1950 led by the senior class of the Walker-Grant School against the city.

Sky, Nature, Natural environment, Tree

Gas, Facade, Font, Human settlement

Walker-Grant School, which was built in 1936 as an elementary school and added high school grades in 1938, was named after two activists—Joseph Walker and Jason Grant. Walker was born into slavery and one of Grant's parents was enslaved. In 1905, both helped establish the African-American high school called the Fredericksburg Normal and Industrial Institute, which moved to the elementary school to form the Walker-Grant School.

When it came for graduation in 1950, the school did not have enough room for the ceremony since there were 27 students in the class, which was the largest to date. As a result, the school asked permission from the city to use the Fredericksburg Community Center. The city refused, replying that the center was for whites only. The school representatives, which included senior class president James Walker, appealed and the city agreed but on the condition that everyone entered the back door. They rejected this idea. Walker said he would rather receive his diploma on the sidewalk. In light of this development, Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) offered to hold the ceremony instead.

On graduation day, the seniors dressed up in their cap and gown and marched, with the supporters, to the community center. There they sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which was considered the "Negro national anthem." After hearing a prayer, Shiloh Baptist minister Dr. Phillip Wyatt gave a speech and presented "dummy" diplomas to the seniors. The protesters then marched to Shiloh Baptist Church, which was still small for the ceremony.

"An illustrated history of the vibrant Fredericksburg congregation now known as Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site)." History and Archives Committee of Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site). 2015. Retrieved from Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) on July 3, 2023.

"Walker-Grant High School Class of 1950 Stages Graduation Protest at Fredericksburg Community Center." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed July 3, 2023.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

The Historical Marker Database