FALLS CHURCH, Va. (DC News Now) — As we prepare to celebrate and honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tomorrow, we’re also taking time to honor people here in our backyard — those who lived through some of the challenging times he worked to change and who also worked to help reach his dream.

In Falls Church, there is a deep-rooted history of civil rights and descendants of key figures who fought for social justice are working to keep their legacies alive. Just off Lee Highway sits the Tinner Hill Historic Site, which is aimed at educating people about the history of segregation in the city and the fight to end it.

Edwin B. Henderson II is the grandson of Edwin B. Henderson, one of the members who fought segregation in Falls Church. He explained that before moving back to the area around 30 years and prior to founding the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, there was little to no history about Tinner Hill and those who worked to fight segregation.

Henderson said that his grandparents first fought against the ordinance passed by Falls Church in 1915 forcing Black property- or homeowners to move into a particular area and sell their land to white residents in order to do so.

The ordinance created four districts, three of which were designated for white homeowners. Henderson explained that the single district created for African Americans only equated to around 5 percent of the entire town.

“My grandparents had just built this house in 1913, so barely been in there a year or two,” Henderson explained. “They were members of the NAACP in Washington and they said, ‘No, we’re gonna fight this. We’re not giving up our house. We’re not giving up our property.'”

Henderson’s grandfather’s work stretches far beyond just the city limits starting with a letter to W.E.B. DuBois asking to form a rural NAACP branch in 1915. He explained there were two main reasons why the NAACP was hesitant to form branches in rural areas: a group needed 50 members to create a formal branch and the unsettling trend of violence.

“In small rural communities like Falls Church was is where a lot of major atrocities might happen to people and retaliation for joining such a branch,” Henderson explained. “They worked diligently to spread to form an Arlington branch, a Leesburg branch, and an Alexandria branch. We have one letter on our website that was digitized where they talked about how they’ve gotten 450 initiates into the movement here in rural northern Virginia.”

Rebecca Tinner Stotts’ great uncle Joseph Tinner worked alongside Dr. Edwin B. Henderson. She continues to teach her grandchildren about the importance of social justice efforts in their own backyard.

She explained that her family’s dream was to never lose their land while fighting for equality. She was showing her grandchildren the historical marker outside of her home on Tinner Hill Road before showing them the newly installed historical fact sidewalk squares which can be found along Lee Highway by the historical site, the Tinner Hill Arch, and the Henderson Home on South Maple Avenue.

Both the Tinners and the Hendersons hope to keep their relative’s legacies alive, not only for their own families but for others in the area, especially on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Nikki Graves Henderson, Edwin’s wife, says the work of her grandfather-in-law will continue to impact people like his great-granddaughter, Janyla, and others across northern Virginia.

“While physically a line was drawn, saying ‘this is Fairfax County, and this is Falls Church City,’ the bloodlines are stronger than that,” Graves Henderson said. “We’ve been able to try to maintain the relationships that began over 100 years ago that are pushing for social justice and equality.”

Stotts said she hopes people realize the importance of the federal holiday for the work of Dr. King. Jr. and others fighting for social justice.

“This shouldn’t be just another day off from school. We’re still going through the injustice of the world today,” Stotts said. “Now at least with the struggle and the march that Martin Luther King did along with millions of other people who saw the injustice, these kids don’t have to go to the back of the store to pick up, or the restaurant to pick up their food. They can go to the front door.”

The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation will be holding a march and a commemoration program titled “How to be Anti-Racist” on Monday. People are asked to arrive at the Tinner Hill Historic Site at 10 o’clock to make posters and learn about the site ahead of the march which will begin at 11 o’clock. The march will proceed down Lee Highway to the Falls Church Episcopal where the “How to be Anti-Racist” panel will begin at noon.