In August 1937, the city of Alexandria, Virginia opened its first public library, the Alexandria Library. Although all citizens funded the library, only whites could attend. The city council took no action beyond casual discussion to accommodate black patrons.
In 1939, a local black attorney, 26-year-old Samuel Wilbert Tucker, began challenging the lack of public library access for black citizens. On 17 March 1939, Tucker sent in a library card application for George Miller, a black resident.