Washington and Lee University

Community Partners

Image: Main Street [Rockbridge Historical Society]

Regional Tourism Board (Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County, VA)

Image: South Main Street, Lexington [Wikipedia]

Image: Historic Downtown Lexington [Virginia.org]

“Introduction to Community-Based Learning: Unheard Voices of Lexington”

Students will learn the basics of community-engaged learning through working on projects that focus on the history and present-day trajectory of the Black communities Lexington. We will discuss why community-based learning is a high-impact and civic-minded practice. Students will acquire the needed dispositions, new ways of thinking, and skills necessary to succeed in a real-world collaboration with community stakeholders who have diverse backgrounds and stories. Drawing on an interdisciplinary approach, we will read secondary and primary sources that provide insights into what it was like for Black families to travel through the area and live here during Jim Crow, as well as the changes brought on by desegregation. We will also invite speakers from the community to provide their own individual perspectives. The final project will be a series of podcasts about local places of Black entrepreneurship, leisure, and community organization. These discoveries will be featured on the digital project "Black-Owned Businesses in Historic Lexington," a StoryMapJS visualization (go.wlu.edu/lexblackbusiness) featured below. Students will also create templates for plaques to be placed on some of those buildings that housed Black-owned businesses. This work will be in coordination with the Rockbridge Historical Society, the Regional Tourism Board, the Visitor Center of Lexington.