Reston Black Focus & Black Arts Festival
While much of Virginia was still segregated in 1964, Reston began as an integrated housing development. Reston’s founder, Robert E. Simon, Jr. wanted Reston to be the home for everyone regardless of race, sex, or economic status.
Despite Reston’s founding dedication to inclusivity, artifacts in the Reston Historic Trust & Museum’s collection attest to the fact that integrated housing and national laws (the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968), although beneficial, did not end racial discrimination.
In the spring of 1969, Restonians came together to discuss how they could combat discrimination that members of the community were experiencing. Several stated that they had encountered discrimination within Gulf Reston’s sales office and were disappointed at the lack of integrated materials in schools. They concluded that Gulf Reston was not doing enough in its advertising to stress that Reston was an open community.
It was out of these meetings that the “Welcome to Reston An Open Community” poster and accompanying brochure were created. These were handed out to prospective residents, outlining how Reston was an open community, welcoming all. Opinion pieces surrounding the issue were published in local newspapers. The group Reston Black Focus began and hosted its first Black Arts Festival in 1969.