Fredericksburg Advance: Spanberger Introduces Bill to Name Post Office After Gladys P. Todd

FREDERICKSBURG ADVANCE, ADELE UPHAUS

A bill introduced in Congress last week would name the post office at 1285 Emancipation Highway after noted local teacher and civil rights advocate Gladys P. Todd.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who sponsored the legislation, said Todd stood out to her as someone who impacted the community in many ways during her life and whose legacy continues to inspire generations.

“We’ll never know the number of kids throughout the community that she inspired,” Spanberger told the Advance on Wednesday.

According to her obituary, Todd, who died in 2015 at the age of 101, attended segregated schools in Fredericksburg and then completed a teacher training program at Virginia State College in Petersburg. She returned to the Fredericksburg area and taught in a one-room school in Stafford and then in the 1935 Walker-Grant building.

After her daughter, Gaye, was born, Todd grew more dedicated to fighting for civil rights. She established a playground for Black children in Hurkamp Park; worked to set up a community center for Black teens at the Elks Hall; organized sit-ins to protest segregated lunch counters downtown; and helped to elect the city’s first Black Council member (and later Mayor) Lawrence Davies.

“Here’s a woman who saw that [Black] kids couldn’t play on the playground and that white teens can go to a community center, but there’s nothing for Black teens,” Spanberger said. “For her to be able to say, ‘This isn’t right and I’m going to provide for these children. I’m going to make sure these children have what makes them feel special and important and valued in the community’—that is notable.”

“In one community, she not only witnessed progression through history but helped to make it happen,” Spanberger continued.

Todd’s legacy of advocacy and education continues through her daughter, Gaye Adegbalola, and grandson Juno Pitchford.

Pitchford told the Advance that a name on a building might be a small thing, but that “every little bit helps.”

“Every time that a name of a Black person who fought for our rights goes on something that can’t be easily erased, it helps the cause,” Pitchford said.

But, he added, Todd herself “wouldn’t have been all that bothered” about the honor. She didn’t do what she did for recognition, he said.

“She would have been more concerned about the people that use the building and do the kids have the things they need,” Pitchford said.

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