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2018-2-12

They Served the Nation That Often Refused to Serve Them. Finally See Them the Way They Saw Themselves.

 

True Sons of Freedom, a photographic exhibition at the Library of Virginia, explores the stories of Virginia’s African American soldiers who served during World War I. Exhibition runs through November 9, 2018

Richmond, Virginia – True Sons of Freedom, a new exhibition at the Library of Virginia running January 16–November 9, 2018, uses photographs from the World War I History Commission Collection to highlight 20 African American soldiers from Virginia who fought overseas to defend freedoms they were denied at home.

The original photographs, reproduced in the gallery at nearly life-size dimensions, place visitors at eye level in front of the soldiers. The monumental scale allows viewers the opportunity to examine rich details not seen in the original photo postcards.

World War I recruitment efforts aimed at African Americans brought new soldiers into the armed services, providing them with opportunities to travel, to work, and, in many cases for the first time, to face cameras—all outside the restrictions of the Jim Crow South. These pocket-size portraits, made outdoors or in makeshift studios, became mementos for families and sweethearts. More importantly, these photographs challenge the crude and demoralizing cultural products of an era that often reduced African Americans to stereotypes and denied them full participation as citizens of the United States. They pose in uniform, some in casual stances, others with a rifle to show their combat readiness. Here were African Americans presented as they wanted themselves seen.

Reflecting the pride and determination of African American World War I servicemen, the images were submitted by these veterans with their responses to military service questionnaires created by the Virginia War History Commissionas part of an effort to capture the scope of Virginians’ participation in the Great War. The series of questions about the veterans’ experiences provides invaluable genealogical information about the soldiers, their families, and their service records.

African Americans from all parts of the commonwealth served in the army and navy during World War I. The soldiers highlighted in True Sons of Freedom came from locations across Virginia—with concentrations in the Eastern Shore/Hampton Roads, Central Virginia, and Southside regions of the state—and most worked as farmers or laborers before the conflict.

An online component will allow viewers to see all 140 of the photographs of African American soldiers submitted to the Virginia War History Commission and to add comments and information they might have about the soldiers. A future addition to the website will allow users to transcribe text from the questionnaires to help the Library make these records more easily searchable for researchers. Those interested can visit www.virginiamemory.com/truesons.

If you are descendants of—or have any information about—these soldiers, the Library would like to hear from you. Members of the public can contact Barbara Batson, exhibitions coordinator (804.692.3518 or barbara.batson@lva.virginia.gov) or Dale Neighbors, Visual Studies Collection coordinator and exhibition curator (804.692.3711 or dale.neighbors@lva.virginia.gov).

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Educating Leaders for Tomorrow

By Dr. Al Roberts

Every February, people across the United States observe a holiday commonly known as Presidents’ Day. The official federal designation is George Washington’s Birthday. Virginia and a few other states preserve the original focus on Washington, but many states honor an expanded slate that includes additional presidents.

Washington was an advocate for education. In his first annual address to Congress on January 8, 1790, the president exhorted lawmakers with these words: “There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”

Since Washington’s time, many of his successors have reiterated similar sentiments regarding the role education plays in maintaining the freedoms outlined in the U.S. Constitution and other founding documents. They have observed that educational institutions are a fundamental ingredient for a properly functioning democracy.

Thomas Jefferson envisioned “a system of general instruction, which shall reach every description of our citizens, from the richest to the poorest.” Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence and served as our nation’s third president. He also worked to establish the University of Virginia.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president, talked about the importance of education from his very first political speech. When running for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly, he told the people about his vision for a country where “every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions.”

In 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd president said, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

And, more recently, our 44th president, Barack Obama noted that “gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you feel the impact."

At Southside Virginia Community College, we honor the legacy of our nation’s historic leaders by educating and training leaders for the future. Academic and workforce classes prepare students with the knowledge necessary to develop their roles and responsibilities as participants in our ever-changing society. Classroom and extracurricular activities provide opportunities to expand leadership skills. Through counselors and clubs, we provide mentors who help students develop their intellectual, personal, and social skills while gaining a greater self-awareness of their own values and directions.

Tomorrow’s leaders are in classrooms today. If you would like to be among them, visit southside.edu or call 434-949-1000 for more information.

Dr. Al Roberts is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the city of Emporia. He can be reached via email at al.roberts@southside.edu.

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CONGRESS PASSES WARNER MEASURES TO IMPROVE CARE FOR MEDICARE PATIENTS

~ Bills heading to the President’s desk include bipartisan efforts to improve health outcomes for those living with chronic conditions ~

WASHINGTON — Today, a package of bipartisan healthcare provisions introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, were included in a funding bill passed by Congress and signed by the President. Among the five bipartisan legislative proposals is the CHRONIC Care Act, legislation aimed at improving health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions.

“It is no surprise that this package of cost-effective, evidence based proposals received broad bipartisan support,” said Sen. Warner. “These commonsense fixes will streamline the way Medicare patients living with chronic conditions receive care, helping those with diabetes or renal disease access high quality and affordable healthcare services.”

Bipartisan legislation passed by Congress today includes:

  • Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act– This bill will permanently reauthorize and strengthen Medicare Advantage Special Needs plans to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions or other significant health needs have continued access to quality care that is tailored to their personal needs. It also expands telehealth services offered through different providers of care that will benefit seniors in rural areas and increase access to primary care services and telestroke care. In addition, it extends the proven “independence at home” model that allows seniors to receive care from primary care teams, thereby decreasing hospital readmissions and allowing seniors with multiple chronic conditions to receive care in their own home.
  • Medicare Home Infusion Therapy Access Act– This bill will create a transitional reimbursement for Medicare home infusion services. While legislation sponsored by Sen. Warner to restructure the way Medicare beneficiaries who need intravenous medication receive their infusion treatments from the comfort of their home has already passed Congress, this bill properly aligns the change in payments with the new benefit, avoiding a four-year gap during which patients would have challenges securing these life-saving treatments. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives.
  • Dialysis Access Improvement Act– This bill will allow dialysis providers to seek outside accreditation from organizations approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to participate in the Medicare program, streamlining the accreditation process for dialysis facilities and improving access for Medicare patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives.
  • Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act– The bill will strengthen patient protections included in the Medicare National Mail Order program for Diabetic Testing Supplies (DTS), ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries are able to continue accessing familiar diabetes supplies and test systems through DTS. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives.
  • Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act– This bill will apply accreditation and other standards for orthotics and prosthetics, such as prosthetic limbs, under Medicare, helping to guarantee access to quality products for beneficiaries. Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives.

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