Sign of Segregation


A historic sign procured by a UMW museum studies class holds a prominent place on the National Mall. Since the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture opened there in September, thousands of visitors have walked past a worn wooden sign from an Alabama bus station. One of 3,000 objects on display, it reads “Waiting Room (interstate and white intrastate passengers).” UMW donated the 1950s-era artifact in honor of the late James Farmer, a UMW distinguished professor and architect of the Freedom Rides that helped to desegregate interstate transportation. During the university’s 2011 semester-long tribute to Farmer and the 50th anniversary of the Rides, a UMW museum studies class purchased the sign on eBay to include in an exhibit students created. The class, taught by former instructor Elisabeth Sommer, researched the Freedom Rides, collected old recruiting posters and magazines, and created life-size photo displays for an exhibit that told the … [Read more...]