Tinner Hill, site of the first rural chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is named for Charles and Mary Tinner, an African-American couple who bought land there in the late 1800s. Their son, Joseph Tinner, and Dr. Edwin B. Henderson, who was a teacher in the Washington, D.C. public schools and a member of the Washington NAACP, together organized the Colored Citizens Protective League (CCPL) in 1915, in response to the passage of a local law mandating residential segregation.
Henderson, Tinner, and seven other citizens from the African-American community in Falls Church initiated a letter-writing campaign and filed a lawsuit against the city seeking to block the ordinance. The sustained pressure from African American citizens prevented the Falls Church town council from enforcing the segregation ordinance, and in 1917 the U.S. Supreme Court case of Buchanan vs. Worley nullified state laws making residential segregation legal.
Dr. Henderson requested a charter for a local branch of the NAACP. There were no rural branches of the NAACP at that time. However, the CCPL was allowed to operate as a standing committee under the authority of the NAACP. Finally, in 1918, a charter was granted to the CCPL to form " the Falls Church and Vicinity NAACP." Joseph Tinner became the first president of the Falls Church NAACP and Henderson became the secretary. Over the next 50 years Tinner, who died in 1928, and Henderson spearheaded civil rights activities that set precedents for the rural South and the nation. African Americans in Falls Church fought for public utilities (1928), a larger, more modern elementary school (1947), door-to-door postal service (1949), public sanitary sewers and water (1955), and street lights (1968). The Falls Church NAACP helped organized other rural branches in Arlington, Fauquier, Prince William, and Loudoun counties.
In 1999, the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation erected a pink granite archway memorializing the founders of the Falls Church NAACP. The design of the monument by local artist John Ballou honors Tinner, a stone mason who mined pink granite at the base of the hill on his family's farm on Tinner's Hill. His work was seen all over the town of Falls Church, including the Falls Church Bank, the Presbyterian Church and a gas station at the crossroads of Lee Highway and Leesburg Pike. His finest gothic arch, at Oakwood Cemetery along Leesburg Pike (Route 7) in Falls Church, was demolished to make way for a car dealership that opened in 1964.
Erected by the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation in 1999, a fifteen-foot monument constructed of pink granite honors the men and women of Tinner Hill who formed the first rural branch of the NAACP.
Geographical and Contact Information
The monument is at the corner of S. Washington and Tinner Hill Road
Falls Church, Virginia