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Virginia Supreme Court's exhibit "Bringing Down Jim Crow" features image from VCU's digital collections

May 18, 2016


On August 24, 1963 Darwyn White held up the sign she carried and looked directly at the photographer who was documenting the protest for local police. “Mr. Grocer: Tell your friends, you’ll see our dollars when segregation ends!” More than 50 years later, Darwyn’s determined spirit still shines forth in a photograph from VCU Libraries digital collections that has been selected for a new exhibit in the Supreme Court of Virginia.

"Bringing Down Jim Crow: the Legal Battle in Virginia, 1933-1967" is a display of eight photographs related to Virginia lawsuits that were important to the history of civil rights in the United States.

The Farmville protests took place a year before the Supreme Court held that school closings were unconstitutional in Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, 377 U.S. 218 (1964). Darwyn White was identified in this photograph as a result of VCU Libraries Freedom Now Project—an effort to identify the young people who participated in this direct action protest organized by the NAACP Youth Council in Prince Edward County.

“Bringing Down Jim Crow” is one of three new exhibits that Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons has envisioned to share the court’s history and to welcome school children, civic groups and tourists into the Supreme Court of Virginia.

State Law Librarian Gail Warren and Librarian-Archivist Catherine OBrion of the Virginia State Law Library made the Chief Justice’s vision into reality. Visitors to the Court can now see "To Benefit All, to Exclude None: Judicial Trailblazers in Virginia,” which features 15 photographs of judges who broke gender, racial and ethnic barriers. A third display offers prints and photographs of buildings that have housed the highest appellate court in Virginia since it met in Jamestown in the 17th century.  

Since the building is only open when court is in session, visitors who wish to see these exhibits should make an appointment by calling the law library at (804) 786-2075. The library is open Monday through Friday, 8:15 to 4:45 (closed on state and federal holidays).

The Supreme Court of Virginia is located at 100 N 9th St, Richmond, VA.

For a deeper story about the court's exhibits, see the spring 2016 VBA Journal article "Courting History." (Shared with permission of the Virginia Bar Association.)

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