NENA Arc of Citizenship

An experiential community learning tour to James Madison's Montpelier and to local sites in Harrisonburg, Virgnia to develop a better understanding of the connections between the struggles for freedom, rights and equality, and the contributions of social justice movements to American society and democracy.

The tour began at James Madison’s Montpelier with the opportunity to visit the Mere Distinction of Colour exhibit and discuss the legacy of slavery with Dr. Patrice Grimes, a member of Montpelier's descendant community and a professor at UVA’s Curry School of Education. We proceeded to the Gilmore cabin, built by an emancipated African American and the Montpelier Train Station to learn about segregation and the impact of Jim Crow laws.

Led by Steven Thomas of the Northeast Neighborhood Association, we engaged in a community walking tour to different sites to learn about slavery, lynching, racial mass terror, segregation, and urban renewal in Harrisonburg, but also the stories of resilience and community remembrance. On campus, Dr. Meg Mulrooney discussed JMU’s history as a segregated school for white women, the symbolism of the named buildings on the Quad, and what she knows so far about the Black men and women who worked, studied, and contributed to JMU’s development. 

Download the Arc of Citizenship primer with information on each site.

View the community tour here on Google Tour Builder.

Learning Objectives
  1. Develop a better understanding and appreciation for Black intellectual and cultural contributions to American society and democracy.
  2. Develop a better understanding of the history and legacy of slavery, and the struggle for freedom and rights.  
  3. Through authentic experience and discussion, develop a better understanding of the connections between the history of slavery and the struggle for freedom and rights and contemporary political and socioeconomic inequities.
  4. Encourage critical thinking and constructive deliberation regarding current social justice issues.
  5. To encourage dialogue and action on difficult public problems.
  6. To develop greater multicultural competence and awareness of issues that affect different communities.
  7. To develop a better understanding of local issues and make connections with the Harrisonburg and Rockingham communities.
After the Tour

Here are some ideas to learn more and take action.

Get involved with the Northeast Neighborhood Association. NENA meets at 7 pm on the third Thursday of each month at the Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center. Join their Community Remembrance Project efforts and donate to help restore and turn the Dallard Newman House into a living museum.

Take courses at JMU in civic engagement and public history. Contact us at for recommendations.

Engage with The Madison Center and Dukes Vote. Become a Democracy Fellow, intern for course credit or volunteer on voter education efforts and deliberative action. Contact us at

Engage with Community Service Learning through community service and/or an alternative break.

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