Samuel W. Tucker: Unsung Hero of the Civil Rights Movement
June 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Wilbert Tucker, a native of Alexandria, Virginia and one of the unsung heroes of the civil rights movement. He was born on June 18, 1913 at 918 Queen Street. During his youth, he attended Parker-Gray School and graduated from Armstrong High School in Washington, DC. Attending the segregated schools left a deep an impression on his mind that would later fuel his fire to fight for civil rights. Following high school, Tucker matriculated to Howard University, graduating from Howard in 1933. Tucker pursued independent legal training after college and in 1934, he passed the bar at the age of 20. On December 27, 1934 he was sworn into office as an attorney.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s Samuel W. Tucker represented African Americans in civil and criminal cases in Alexandria and Southside Virginia. On August 21, 1939, Tucker sent five young African-American men to stage a peaceful protest at the whites-only library at 717 Queen Street in Alexandria, VA. The five men were arrested for disorderly conduct, but the charges against the men were dropped. In September, the court heard Tucker’s petition and agreed that African-Americans should have access to a library. In 1940, the Robert H. Robinson Library was constructed for the African-American citizens of Alexandria.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s he became the leading attorney for the NAACP in the state of Virginia. He worked tirelessly on the appeal of the “Martinsville Seven” and began his crusade to end segregation in the public school systems. He appeared at the Supreme Court at least five times insisting that the Supreme Court increase their efforts to force states to desegregate schools. He ran for Congress twice with the intent to show that African-Americans have a voice in government. Samuel Wilbert Tucker died on October 20, 1990.
America's First Sit-Down Strike: The 1939 Alexandria Library Sit-In is a lesson plan for teachers on Tucker's contribution to the Civil Rights Movement.