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Reston An Open Community

Unlike much of Virginia in 1964, Reston began as an integrated housing development. Reston’s founder, Robert E. Simon, Jr. wanted Reston to be home for everyone regardless of race, sex, or economic status. Simon said "The idea of community means people of all incomes and races living happily together... We were turned down by 50 banks for normal construction loans. The backers we did have were shocked and considered walking away from this thing. We publicized that it was an open community." (In his own words, p.83)

Despite Reston’s founding dedication to welcoming all, 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 the sales office and were disappointed at the lack of integrated materials in schools. Mentioned in several articles of the 1960s and 1970s was that pricing of housing which was high. Articles argued that high housing prices contributed to Reston having less discrimination than other places since most residents were of the same high income level. On the other hand, many felt that Reston could be more diverse if housing was more affordable. Many believed that Gulf Reston could do more 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.


That same year, the group Reston Black Focus was founded. As the pamphlet "Reston Black Focus What? Why? How?" states Reston Black Focus was "formed by black Restonians who were concerned that black people participate as citizens of Reston and that black culture and lifestyles not be lost." They hosted their first Black Arts Festival in 1969. They focused on educational and cultural development, concerns of black Restonians with the development of Reston, and more. The Black Arts Festival was hosted annually into the 1970s. 

In the 1970s, protests were held when racial epithets were sprayed on local buildings in the 1970s and when a fast-food chain known for its derogatory images was proposed for Reston.

Read and view related archival artifacts in our collection below

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