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‘History, Hope & Healing:’ Tinner Hill Raises Awareness With Various Programs

The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, located in Falls Church, was founded 25 years ago to “preserve the early civil rights history of Falls Church and vicinity.” Named after the historic area in Falls Church, the foundation has created memorials, organized cultural events, such as the annual Tinner Hill Heritage Music Festival and upcoming fundraiser at Harvey’s restaurant, to recognize the achievements of “special individuals and groups.” 

Edwin Henderson, the founder and incorporator of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, said the organization was started to bring awareness of a history “forgotten or omitted from recognition, as it was something foundational in the City of Falls Church.” Joseph Tinner, a descendant of Tinner Hill namesakes Charles and Mary Tinner, teamed with Henderson’s grandfather, Edwin Bancroft Henderson, to fight for civil rights and later founded the first rural branch of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 

Throughout the 25 years since the foundation began, numerous programs have occurred to raise awareness of Tinner Hill and its goals. Various fundraisers have been set up to help the foundation, such as the upcoming “Boos, Blues and Brews” event happening at Harvey’s restaurant on Thursday, October 27th. 

Tori McKinney, a board member of the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, said 10 percent of sales made during the entire day will be donated toward the “overall production” of the Tinner Hill Heritage Music Festival.  

The Tinner Hill Heritage Music Festival is an annual event that takes place on the second Saturday of June in Cherry Hill Park and allows many national and area blues musicians to play. The event is the “premier” charity event that celebrates and honors the African American legacy, one of the foundation’s missions. McKinney said the funds raised by the music festival allows the foundation to “carry out its additional programs,” such as the MLK Jr. March, February’s Black History Month event, the March Falls Church City Women’s Walk and more. 

The Tinner Hill Heritage Music Festival is the “premier” charity event for the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation. (News-Press Photo)

Harvey’s owner, Thomas Harvey, said the restaurant decided to host the fundraiser due to Tinner Hill being “a wonderful part of Falls Church.” The event will have a blues band, costume contest and serve food and beverages from local breweries and wineries. Harvey said the idea to incorporate a blues band in the event was to tie it in with the music festival and “bring the fun of Tinner Hill to us.” He also stated he hopes the event will raise awareness of the foundation, as well as “bring some money in so they can make the festival nicer.” 

McKinney said she also hopes the event at Harvey’s will “increase and heighten the awareness” of the foundation. She said that about four years ago, the community had minimal knowledge of Tinner Hill, but after the music festival and numerous programs and fundraisers, she has had friends travel from out of state to attend the various events hosted by the foundation.

“It’s allowed us to broaden the audience and make a much larger community aware of the foundation and its mission,” McKinney said.  

As for future endeavors, the foundation is currently in the process of doing public art, which includes two murals at the Blacksmith Shop on Fairfax Street and Bike Club off of South Washington Street. Several more are in the works so that “22,000 cars that come up and down Lee highway every day will be able to know the history of Tinner Hill even without having to get out of their automobiles.” A “self-guided” walking tour of the historic Tinner Hill site trail is also being worked on by the foundation. Recently, Henderson stated that the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation was involved in the help of making the historic panels located at South Washington Street Street and North Maple “more diverse and inclusive.” 

“I want people to know that [Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation] are trying to be agents for change,” Henderson said. “We live in a multicultural society and as such we need to empathize and celebrate our diversity.”