A new window display at Aurora Hills Library spotlights efforts of some local residents to promote education and literacy during a time of rigid racial segregation across Virginia.
The display focuses on the Henry L. Holmes Library, which was founded by Arlington’s African-American community in 1940 and served as the only library resource for the community until the county’s library system was integrated in the late 1940s.
“It’s a story of resilience and dedication,” county library officials said, as the library “created a haven for books, learning and discussion for members of their community at a time when the county would not do so.”
Operated by a volunteer-run organization, the Holmes Library – which was housed in several locations during its existence – provided several thousand books in its collection. The library was incorporated into the county system in 1944, but library-system segregation remained in place until 1950.
The library was named in honor of Henry L. Holmes, who had been enslaved prior to the Civil War, later lived at Freedman’s Village and, during the era of Reconstruction, served as a Republican as Arlington’s Commissioner of Revenue.
More information on the library and the role it played in the community can be found at https://library.arlingtonva.us.