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1/28/22: The McLean Community Center and the Old Firehouse Center are open. All classes will be held as scheduled. Rentals and local, open meetings are not affected unless canceled by the Executive Director or the rental client.



Traveling While Black Virtual Reality Experience

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021 - Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022
Wednesday-Saturday, Noon–8 p.m. and Sunday, Noon–6 p.m. Closed on Monday and Tuesday. 
This experience will be closed on 12/23, 12/24, 12/25 and 12/31 in observance of County holidays.

Free admision; registration required. You can register for a one-hour timeslot by clicking here.


In “Traveling While Black VR,” the immersion of 360° footage draws viewers into living history lessons told around a booth in Ben’s Chili Bowl. The Washington, D.C. restaurant has been a mainstay of the African American community since 1958, bearing witness to significant Civil Rights milestones that are woven into the film in powerful snippets of footage. The Traveling While Black VR experience/film was directed by Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams.

Canada wordmarkFrom the stirring memories of civil rights leader Courtland Cox to the heartbreaking words of Samaria Rice, whose young son, Tamir, was killed by police in 2014, VR allows Williams to connect the parallels of the past to the present. 


QcDrapeau 2couleurs 619kPlease register for a timeslot. We will sign in participants at the top of the hour, with a short introduction to the Occulus VR set, followed by the film that lasts approximately 20 minutes.

Please Note: Contact lenses are strongly encouraged for the best viewing experience. Glasses don't fit well under the Oculus sets and may cause blurriness.

Talk Back, Look Forward

Join this post-exhibit session with guided facilitation by Joshua Jenkins that will create space to reflect in community with others around the "Traveling While Black" virtual reality experience as well as look ahead at how the experience can move us to collective action. Talk Back, Look Forward sessions will be held remotely via Zoom on Wednesdays at 6p.m. and in-person at the McLean Community Center on Saturdays at 1 p.m. Registration is required to attend. Register here.

Traveling While Black Playlist
Check out this specially curated playlist of seminal Black artists from the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s who, with popularity and fame, would’ve still been in great risk of traveling while Black. The contributions of these artists provide a necessary soundtrack of the times that will give greater context to the "Traveling While Black" exhibit.
Listen on Spotify/Apple Music: https://qrco.de/TWBmcc 

Resources for Further Engagement
We’ve pulled together some helpful resources for those looking to dive deeper into conversations around race in America as well as resources for those looking to patronize and support others within the McLean community.

Podcast / Code Switch 
Podcast / Still Processing
Book / The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America
Book / Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America
Directories / Black-Owned in McLean and Northern Virginia (and Beyond)
Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce Member Directory
Black-Owned Restaurants in Northern Virginia
Ben’s Chili Bowl


The experience was funded with support from the Québec Government Offices in New York and Washington, the Embassy of Canada to the United States, Fairfax County Neighborhood Community Services and the Fairfax County Public Library.

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