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Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail – Part of the US Civil Rights Trail

What is the Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail?

The Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail follows the stories and sites of the local Civil Rights movement and highlights the role of Black residents in Fredericksburg’s history.

fxbg civil rights trailThe trail was launched in 2023 and is the result of an ongoing partnership between the City of Fredericksburg, University of Mary Washington’s James Farmer Multicultural Center and the UMW faculty and students.

The trail is the culmination of years of research and collection of local oral histories. Sites of importance were determined from the oral histories and the trail was formed. During the trail development, six events were held commemorating the Freedom Riders, the 1950 Walker Grant Protest and John Washington. Three wayside panels, one history panel and two state markers were installed as well.

As February 8, 2024 the Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail is part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

Freedom, a Work in Progress

This story is not the final version. It will be updated as future stories and information are uncovered and brought forward.

Overview of the Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail

Fredericksburg’s Civil Rights Trail has two parts.

Part 1 is a 2.6 mile walking tour through Fredericksburg’s historic downtown district that starts at the Fredericksburg Visitor Center.

Part 2 starts on the University of Mary Washington’s campus and includes stops at Shiloh Cemetery and the Dorothy Hart Community Center. Part 2 is .5 miles of walking on campus and 1.9 miles of driving.

Trail Stops and Stories

The trail’s 21 stops include stories of “persecution and peril, power and promise”.

Tour Timeline

The tour begins at the end of the Civil War in 1865. Fredericksburg’s location halfway between Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, and Washington, DC, made it the site of intense fighting as Union and Confederate armies advanced and retreated. Enslaved Black people took advantage of the shifting lines to emancipate themselves.

This tour includes sites where Black people created educational, housing, and business opportunities in the midst of Jim Crow era segregation, as well as buildings where people protested racial segregation in the 1950s and 1960s. As in the rest of the United States, Fredericksburg’s Civil Rights history continues into the present and this tour includes sites associated with Black political leaders in the mid to late 20th century and the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020.

Blended view of Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) in the past and present On the trail, visitors will:

  • Learn about the 13 Freedom Riders who’s first stop was in Fredericksburg
  • Hear about Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) and Shiloh Baptist Church (New Site) role in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Hear stories from Fredericksburg’s community about desegregating locals school, University of Mary Washington and the sit-in movement
  • Learn about John Washington who escaped to freedom across the Rappahannock River to Union Army
  • See Dr. James Farmer memorial at the University of Mary Washington, one of the big six in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Hear the story of the Walker-Grant High School graduating Class of 1950 and why they protested the City of Fredericksburg
  • Learn about Urbane Bass and his heroic efforts in World War I

How to Explore the Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail

Part 1 of the trail starts at the Fredericksburg’s Visitor Center, where visitors can pick up a walking trail map of the Civil Rights Trail and review copies of the Negro Motorist Green Book. The Negro Motorist Green Book was a travel guide written by postal carrier Victor Hugo Green and remained in circulation from 1936 to 1968. It was used during segregation and informed Black travelers on which hotels, restaurants, and gas stations they could use without fear of violence.

The Visitor Center has public restrooms and staff can answer questions about Fredericksburg’s attractions and options for food and other accommodations.

Short term parking is available in the lot next to the Visitor Center. Visitors can also park in the Sophia Street Parking Garage, only two blocks away on the corner of Sophia and Wolfe streets.

About the US Civil Rights Trail

US Civil Rights Trail logo
Featuring over 130 sites across more than 15 states, the United States Civil Rights Trail is a collection of churches, schools, museums, and other landmarks primarily in the Southern states, where activists challenged segregation in the 1950s and 1960s to advance social justice.

Related Videos

City of Fredericksburg and UMW commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

City of Fredericksburg and UMW unveil Freedom Rides Marker

Historical Marker commemorating the Walker-Grant Class of 1950 protest

Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail Unveiling Event

Unveiling of the State Historical Marker: “Great Exodus From Bondage John Washington, April 18, 1862

Progress is being made on the Fredericksburg Civil Rights Trail

The Fredericksburg, VA Civil Rights Trail is added to the United States Civil Rights Trail

Mission Statements

City of Fredericksburg

Where WE All Come Together WE means everyone. Fredericksburg is a welcoming, inclusive community that actively engages its members and embraces partnerships to ensure racial equity as a value in all aspects of city life. Everyone feels they belong and shares a sense of place. Our diversity is woven into our community fabric and is reflected in our government, businesses, and vibrant city culture. Fredericksburg is a leader and a model of racial equity.

University of Mary Washington

UMW embraces its obligation to serve the educational aspirations of all communities and seeks to reflect the diversities of all people in its students, faculty, and staff. This philosophical approach to diversity and inclusion strengthens our community and is essential to our academic mission and institutional excellence. UMW is committed to its responsibility to be a model of fairness, inclusivity, equity, access and equal opportunity, providing intellectual and institutional leadership regarding diversity, and maintaining a welcoming, inclusive environment of mutual respect for its members of all backgrounds and identities. In keeping with these tenets, the University is committed to a system of responsibility, accountability, and recognition of all of its members, and seeks to carry out these principles of diversity and inclusion in all of its operations, goals, and objectives.

University of Mary Washington's James Farmer Multicultural Center

Multicultural Student Affairs strives to facilitate students’ learning and personal development, including those of historically marginalized groups. By educating and engaging members of the campus community on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, we promote a welcoming and safe campus environment where all students may thrive, succeed, and experience a sense of belonging.