On Monday, February 27, 2023, Fairfax County leaders, community members and relatives of the late James and Marguerite Mott gathered at Mott Community Center in Fairfax to celebrate and remember the impact that the Motts had on Fairfax County. The family presented a collection of framed articles and artifacts honoring James and Marguerite Mott and their contributions to civil rights in Fairfax County.
The Mott Community Center is named in honor of James and Marguerite Mott, a Black couple who worked to establish the Braddock Community Center in 1969. The facility was founded in a log cabin and later expanded to two trailers. In 1995, the county demolished the trailers to build the modern facility at 12111 Braddock Road, renamed the James and Marguerite Mott Community Center.
Mott, a lawyer for the U.S. Navy, is remembered as a tireless pioneer for civil rights in Fairfax County, according to a Washington Post story published shortly after he died in 2004 at the age of 78. According to the Post, the Motts began their activism after they were turned away from picnicking at Lake Fairfax in 1965. They subsequently sued in U.S. District Court in Alexandria and won equal access to county facilities for Black people. The Motts also founded a nonprofit, the Lincoln-Lewis-Vannoy Communities for Assistance and Improvement Inc., that provided food for area families. It was later renamed the James Mott Community Assistance Program, and it helped the community for decades.
Chris Scales, NCS Director of Cultural, Recreation and Community Connections, said he is honored to accept the tributes, which were compiled by the Motts’ nephew, Keith Mott.
"The Motts dedicated their lives to the betterment of our community, often in the face of great adversity and opposition,” said Scales. “Their legacy continues to benefit, inspire, and motivate new generations of community activists and advocates to carry on the fight for justice and equity.”
Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity thanked Keith Mott for helping to preserve his aunt and uncle's legacy by creating the two display pieces with articles and artifacts that share his family's story.
“Your aunt and uncle were a tremendous influence in Fairfax County,” Herrity said. “They were turned away from facilities. That is hard to imagine today, and it is important for people to read about it.”
Keith Mott, 53, said he used to visit the Mott Center with his aunt and uncle. He remembers watching it progress from trailers and a field to the center it is today. After visiting the center from Los Angeles a few years ago, he used his mother's collection of newspaper articles and saved items to create display frames to educate center visitors on the important role they played in the Fairfax County community. He traveled to Virginia to present the frames during Black History Month.
“All [the Motts] wanted was equity,” Mott said. “When we don’t preserve history for the next generations, they will not know the history.”
Media Note: Click on the photo to enlarge and download.
For more photos, visit the event's Flickr page.