Center for Mason Legacies releases preliminary findings of latest project, Black Lives Next Door

Center for Mason Legacies releases preliminary findings of latest project, Black Lives Next Door
J. Charles Jones and other ACCESS marchers starting off the Beltway march

The Center for Mason Legacies (CML) invites you to explore our newly created digital project, Black Lives Next Door: George Mason and Northern Virginia in an Age of Disparity and Opportunity (BLND). Building on work that began in 2020, BLND is presenting its first set of findings. We welcome you to take a journey through our “pasts next door” and related stories. Three exhibits—Campus, Community, and Education—reveal perspectives of another time and space.

As we close in on the 50th anniversary of George Mason University (GMU), there is much to celebrate, not least recent national praise for the extraordinary diversity of our institution. Yet little is known about GMU’s place in the development of Northern Virginia. With a team of student and faculty researchers, BLND is exploring the formative years of George Mason College, the parent school of GMU, and its relationships with neighbors, near and far.  

We recommend that you begin your exploration of our OMEKA installation by visiting five contextual exhibits:

  1. Pasts Next Door
  2. Andy Smith, His Family, and Fairfax Suburbanization
  3. Bulldozers, Black Lives, White Suburbs: Removing Earth and Memory
  4. Local Public Education
  5. Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington in Fairfax

Primary evidence displayed and interpreted on these pages introduce different historical experiences. Featuring aerial photographs and maps, BLND pays special attention to changes in the lived environment, stemming from the expansion of George Mason’s campus and movement of surrounding communities during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras.     

Our work is not over. With the support of a 2021 Summer Team Impact Grant and other contributions, CML continues to conduct oral history interviews and search archival repositories for relevant property deeds, landscape images, legal records, and real estate transactions. Should you have any questions and/or wish to share information, please do contact us at Thank you.