JMU students take tour to uncover social struggle in Harrisonburg

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Over the weekend, the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement took students on a tour of different historical sites to learn about social struggles throughout history on campus and around Harrisonburg.

The Arc of Citizenship Tour started on Saturday, with the group going to Montpelier, the home of James Madison, to tour the Gilmore cabin, built by an emancipated slave.

On Sunday, Steven Thomas, with the Northeast Neighborhood Association, led the group to several slavery-related sites in Harrisonburg, such as the spot where Charlotte Harris, a black women accused of burning a barn in the late 1800's, was lynched.

Thomas also took the group to the Dallar Newman house, a historic home built by former slaves, to learn about Newtown and Urban Renewal in the area.

Organizers say this event was created to teach others in the area about history not often spoken about.

"These are stories that should be heard and have been suppressed throughout history and that includes within Harrisonburg's history," Anna Connole, a student organizer, said. "That's why I think it's so important to bring the JMU community and anyone who wanted to come to show case how they're so intertwined."

The tour concluded after a discussion on the history of segregation on campus.

The organization said they are looking to host other tours like this in the future.