Public in Name Only Summary

The book “Public in Name Only” discusses the various problems with racism, segregation, and discrimination towards blacks in Alexandria virginia. The book starts with the issue of public libraries and how poorly accessible they were. The only libraries that were free to the general public were all the way in D.C., this is completely unfair since transportation can be expensive and inconvenient. The ability to read and learn should be a basic human right, but the twisted politics at the time could view blacks with little regard to rights since it was a recently desegregated country.  The next chapter delves into the life of Samuel WIlbert Tucker, a black attorney from Alexandria. Samuel helped the effort to really go forward with complete desegregation by leading protests such as the sit-in event at the library and generally inspiring the masses for future movement towards equal rights. Chapter three goes into the history of Alexandria and how its past was involved in the Civil War and the rise of Jim Crow laws. Chapter four goes deeper into Jim Crow laws in Virginia. These laws prevented many basic rights such as voting to blacks. The next section discusses Alexandria’s public libraries during the time they were still segregated. Libraries used to be private until schools started to open some of theirs to the public. It wasn’t until 1962 when we would start to see desegregated libraries, and even then they still had many issues. With these issues, Tucker decided to take action as the NAACP wasnt working towards allowing public libraries to be more accessible to blacks. This drove Tucker to protest peacefully with his sit-in, however this event led to their arrest. Years after desegregation, Alexandria still struggled to implement equal rights to everyone, these would have long lasting effects on black communities as they were not even able to easily access a public library. This makes me question what could’ve been done differently to integrate their communities in a smoother way. I wonder what problems Alexandria’s hesitation has caused today.

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