Danville Stories: Segregation to Civil Rights

Those pictured here provide a local context for the national civil rights movement that often appears in history books and dominates our collective memory. Exhibit portraits and text are accompanied by interview excerpts, related resources, and biographies of each individual. Click below to learn more about the stories of these Danville residents.

Lawrence Clark

Lawrence M. Clark, Ed.D.

As a young man, Lawrence M. Clark observed the difficulties African Americans faced as they sought employment in the tobacco and textile industries.

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Ruth Isley

Ruth W. Isley

For Ruth W.Isley, education was a gateway through which she could secure opportunity in a segregated society.

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Robert Williams

Robert A. Williams

On April 2, 1960, Robert A. Williams led fifteen youth in a sit-in at the all-white Danville Memorial Library.

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Dorothy Harris

Dorothy O. Harris

Dorothy O. Harris joined the Danville civil rights movement after seeing fire hoses directed at protesters.

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James Peters

James W. Peters, Jr.

In the summer of 1963, James W. Peters, Jr., lined up African-American property owners to post bonds for the release of jailed protesters.

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Avicia H. Thorpe

Avicia H. Thorpe

For Avicia Thorpe, teaching was entrée into one of the few professions available for African-American women.

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James Hughes

James Ulysses Griffin Hughes

James U.G. Hughes’ mother, Mabel Hughes, posted the family funeral home as surety for 44 protesters.

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Ruby Archie

Ruby B. Archie

Ruby B. Archie did not march in the 1963 civil rights protests, and admits some might consider her "old school."

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Charlie Nelson

Charlie E. Nelson

Charlie E. Nelson, a Danville native, returned to his hometown in early summer 1963 and found the city in turmoil.

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Charles Oliver

Charles T. Oliver

For years, Charles Oliver directed the choir and played the Moller organ at Loyal Baptist Church, founded in 1865 by freed slaves.

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