Formerly segregated, Shirley Nan Washington said Lewis Mountain Campground in Stanardsville has changed much.

Washington remembers experiencing the beauty of natural places on camping trips with her father, Gatehouse Washington, a native of Luray. The Washingtons visited the campground when she was growing up and it was difficult to access and designated for Black people only.

“It’s wide open to the public [now]. Also, the drive was not there when dad took us on the trips,” she said.

Shirley Nan Washington, who now resides in Silver Spring, Md., published a series of three photography books based on journeys she’s taken to the Shenandoah Valley to reconnect with childhood roots, exploring the area’s segregated past along with its natural beauty, which is transcendent.

“Home in my heart is Harrisonburg, Virginia. I just reside other places,” Washington said.

Naming the photography collection the Home Trilogy, Washington published the books in August. The books total 184 pages of photographs taken while journeying to Harrisonburg.

Washington, a native of Harrisonburg, grew up in Newtown. A 1964 graduate of the Lucy F. Simms School in Harrisonburg, she attended the 1963 March on Washington, where she heard Martin Luther King Jr. deliver the “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Of course I remember [segregation],” Washington said. “At that time, we only had a Black high school. Things were still segregated.”

Washington, who continued a life of activism, is a charter member of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History. She’s also photographed and attended numerous women’s marches and rallies, while being a lifelong learner.

The three books feature full-color images of Washington’s journeys along scenic and sometimes forgotten routes. Washington’s photography explores everyday life including scenes of front porches, covered bridges and churches. The books also feature photography of animals, including colorful male peacocks.

The third book in the series, entitled “Viewing Fall Foliage from Shenandoah National Park Lookouts,” is especially inspired by childhood trips with family. Washington visited various lookout points along Skyline Drive to capture fall foliage.

“I hope that [readers] will get an appreciation for the natural beauty that surrounds us. I hope that they too will become inspired to photograph and take courses and to enjoy life,” Washington said.

Washington received a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts and worked in education during her career. A self-declared lifelong learner, Washington pursued more education during her retirement, earning six more degrees from Montgomery College, including a degree in photography.

“She’s nontraditional, definitely, she takes a lot of classes in many different departments. Photography is definitely her main area. She takes a lot of classes in the photography department,” said Bill Humphrey, professor at Montgomery College.

It was in photography and design classes at Montgomery College that Washington said she was inspired to turn her passion for photo into a published work. Washington said photography professor Bryant Jones encouraged her to create a book, while professors Harry St. Ours and Humphrey assisted with the publishing and creation of the book.

“[Jones] was just so very motivating and he kept pushing me and said I had so many pictures that I needed to share with the world,” Washington said.

Contact Jillian Lynch at 574-6274 or Follow Jillian on Twitter @lynchjillian_

(1) comment


Lewis Mt campground is NOT in Stanardsville but atop the Blue Ridge south of Swift Run Gap. Leave it to a liberal to tie the natural beauty of the mountains to long-gone racism. Talk about the photography and leave political agendas out. But like a junkie, you can’t help yourself!

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