Black History Month

Governor Northam Announces Second Annual ‘Black History Month Historical Marker Contest’

Submission period open from February 15 to March 15

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today invited Virginia students, educators, and families to participate in the second annual Black History Month Historical Marker Contest.

This initiative offers opportunities to learn about African Americans who have made important contributions to Virginia history, provides teachers with resources to guide history discussions, and includes a contest where students can submit ideas for new historical markers to the Department of Historical Resources. 

“This contest is a new Virginia tradition, and one of many ways we are working to tell a more accurate and comprehensive story of our shared past,” said Governor Northam. “Historical markers are a unique and visible way to educate the public about our history, and we need to do a better job of recognizing Black Virginians who have played prominent roles in areas like improving education, championing equal justice, deepening faith communities, and advancing science, technology, and medicine throughout our history. I remain committed elevating initiatives like this one that help make our Commonwealth a more just, compassionate, and culturally rich place to live, work, visit, and learn.”

Virginia’s Historical Highway Marker Program began in 1927 with installation of the first markers along U.S. Route 1, and is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Managed by the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Historic Resources, the program is an effort to recognize and chronicle events, accomplishments, sacrifices, and personalities of historic importance to Virginia’s story. The signs are known for their black lettering against a silver background and their distinctive shape.

“These markers bring Virginia history to a large audience, including people who may not have another occasion to learn about Virginia history,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “Virginia’s markers bear the state seal, so they should provide a clear indication of our values. This annual contest helps ensure Virginia’s historical markers more equitably represent Virginia’s diversity.” 

Virginia has erected more than 2,600 markers along its roadways, but as of January 2020, only 350 markers honored African Americans. Last year on Juneteenth, Governor Northam announced 20 newly approved state historical highway markers addressing topics of national, state, and regional significance to African American history in the Commonwealth. Ten of the markers were submitted by Virginia students through Governor Northam’s inaugural Black History Month Historical Marker Contest and included civil rights pioneer Barbara Rose Johns, entrepreneur Maggie Lena Walker, Sergeant William H. Carney, and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.

“As a classroom teacher, I believe that Black history is the cornerstone to build a better tomorrow,” said Dr. Shavonne Ruffin, a Northampton County Public Schools elementary school teacher. “The Governor’s Black History Month Historical Marker Contest allowed my students an opportunity to discover the stories of influential African Americans in Virginia. It was remarkable to watch them light up as they learned about heroes like Katherine Johnson, and to witness their joy when they found out that due to their efforts, her important contributions would be forever memorialized through a historical marker.”  

“I liked the contest because I got to learn about amazing people who inspire me to be a better kid and make a difference in my community,” said Javier Rodriguez-Aragon, a fifth grader in Fairfax County Public Schools. “Last year, I nominated William H. Carney and Barbara Johns for Virginia historical markers so that more people can learn their stories and be inspired.”

Learn more about the winning markers submitted by students in the inaugural Black History Month Historical Marker Contest here.

The contest web page includes a lesson plan and classroom activity guide developed by Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Janice Underwood, which is designed to help teachers and administrators navigate these discussions thoughtfully and inclusively and can be used for in-person or virtual classroom settings.

“As an educator, I believe deeply in the power of learning through the exploration of local history,” said Dr. Underwood. “Since 1619, stories of incredible African American Virginians have frequently been ignored. This contest allows for students to discover local heroes and provides students an opportunity for civic engagement inviting them to suggest new historical markers.”  

Governor Northam’s Black History Month Historical Marker Contest begins on Monday, February 15, and suggested historical markers must be submitted by Monday, March 15. The Department of Historical Resources will review all submissions and will select the top five, in consultation with Governor Northam and members of his Cabinet.  

“As the leaders of tomorrow, it is critically important for students to develop a deeper understanding of Black history in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. “The Black History Month Historical Marker Contest provides students and educators alike an opportunity to celebrate the incredible contributions of Black and brown Virginians. I invite all educators and students to help us tell a more complete Virginia story through participating in this contest.”

More information about how to participate in the second annual Black History Month Historical Marker Contest is available here.

 

Governor Northam Recognizes February as Black History Month in Virginia

Invites Virginians to reflect upon contributions of African Americans, participate safely in events throughout the Commonwealth

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today issued a proclamation and made the following statement on Black History Month, which is celebrated in Virginia and nationwide during February.

“Black history is American history and should be acknowledged and celebrated continuously as fundamental to the strength and diversity of our Commonwealth and our country. The celebration of Black History Month provides an important opportunity to tell a more accurate and comprehensive story of our past and honor the legacy of countless Black Americans that have shaped our history.

“As we continue working to build a more inclusive, equitable, and just future for all, we must also reaffirm our commitment to lifting up the people and places that for too long have been marginalized or forgotten. From business and science to sports and the arts, I encourage Virginians to find ways to recognize the many contributions and achievements of African Americans, not just during the month of February, but every month of the year.”

The theme of 2021’s national Black History Month is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.” This year marks the 95th observance of Black History Month, which was originally founded as Negro History Week by Virginia native and historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1926.

Virginians are encouraged to participate in events hosted by the Northam Administration and community organizations taking place online and throughout the Commonwealth. A list of such events can be found here.

Click here to view a video from the Virginia Tourism Corporation that highlights artists, exhibits, and events that celebrate Black History in Virginia.

The full text of Governor Northam’s Black History Month proclamation is available here or below.

***ATTENTION MIDDLE SCHOOLERS***Rep. McEachin Announces Second Black History Month Essay Contest

 

RICHMOND, VA  Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today announced his second Black History Month Essay Contest for middle and high school students (grades 6-12) residing in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District. Students will write about a current leader or activist whom they believe will become an important figure in Black history.

 

“Last year, I was deeply moved to read what Black History Month meant to participants in our inaugaral Black History Month essay contest,” said Congressman McEachin. “After witnessing a year of historic protests and national conversations about race relations in America fueled by young people, I look forward to reading about the next generation of leaders our students feel are making a lasting impact in the Black community.”

 

Middle school students should submit an essay 350 to 500 words in length and high school students should submit an essay 500-750 words in length, along with their full name, address, school name and grade level to VA04.Projects@mail.house.gov no later than February 15, 2020. Winners will be notified individually and announced on Congressman McEachin’s social media pages in February.

Jackson-Feild Residents Celebrate Black History

In recognition and celebration of Black History Month, Residential Services Supervisor Katrinka Phillips planned an entire day filled with a number of fun and educational activities. Residents created posters depicting African-Americans who were instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement. They held a poetry reading and read aloud black history information that resonated with them.  They even enjoyed a rousing game of “Black History Jeopardy” featuring questions written by staff about important people, places, days, and definitions.

Working to ensure that every holiday throughout the year is recognized with a special meal, Jackson-Feild’s Director of Food Services Cynthia Easter pulled out all the stops for this Black History Month celebration.  Easter and her staff prepared a dinner of fried chicken, homemade macaroni and cheese, strings beans, rolls and apple cobbler that was thoroughly enjoyed by residents and staff alike.

Days like this are just one of the many things that set Jackson-Feild apart from other treatment facilities. In addition to receiving the treatment they need, the boys and girls are provided opportunities to explore topics of interest as a group, share their talents, and celebrate holidays that are important to them.

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2018 Black History Month Proclimation

Mr. George E. Morrison III, Secretary of the Greensville Emporia NAACP and Emporia's first Appointed Black City Manager, and Deacon Cornell Hines of the Executive Board accept the 2018 Black History Month Proclimation from Emporia's first Black Mayor, Mary L. Person

Proclamation

Black History Month

February 1-28, 2018

Whereas,February is recognized nationally as Black History Month and Dr. Carter B. Woodson, a distinguished African American author, editor, publisher and historian, is acclaimed “Father of Black History Month”.  Dr. Woodson believed that African Americans should know their past in order to participate in the affairs of the country; and

Whereas,Black History Month acknowledges both past and present African and African-American icons whose courage, sacrifices, and relentless efforts have sought to improve the quality of life for all in the name of justice, honor and freedom; and

Whereas,such noted African-American icons as Ida B. Wells, the renowned writer, teacher, women’s suffragist and anti-lynching crusader; and Rosa Parks, whose famous decision to remain in her seat symbolized the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, have made imperative contributions to our society; and notable local African Americans as Joseph C. Bond, a mortician, was the first African American to serve on Emporia City Council and a founder of the local NAACP branch; Dr. Willie Joyner, a physician and entrepreneur, owned a medical building, a movie theatre, and rental properties; Dr. Joseph Macklin, a pharmacist, was the first African American druggist to manage his own business; Charles Harris, a mechanic, was the first African American to own and operate a service station; Edward Westwood Wyatt, an advocate for improved school conditions for African Americans and a zealous educator, legacy lives on as the first African American High School (E.W. Wyatt High School) was named in his honor; Charlie Stephen Thomas, a businessman and a founder of the local NAACP branch, operated a grocery store across from Greensville County Training School to provide snacks for the students, since there were no cafeterias at that time; Etta Reavis, a homemaker, provided hot meals and shelter for local teachers at R.R. Moton Elementary School; Elizabeth R. Allison, Reverend and Mrs. Willie Curley, Sr., Annie Green, and Helen Kindred provided shelter and meals for the teachers on the North side of town; George C. Williams, a local farmer, purchased a bus to transport students and teachers to school that resided in the county; and

Whereas,the Honorable Mary L. Person was elected as the first African American female to serve on Emporia City Council, made history again when she was elected on  November 6, 2012, as the first African American and first female to serve as Mayor for the City of Emporia; and

Whereas,it is essential to learn from the many lessons of history from world renowned leaders as well as the contributions of local African Americans to continue the pursuit of our Founding Fathers’ vision of liberty, justice and equality for all; and

Now, Therefore, I, Mary L. Person, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Emporia, Virginia do hereby proclaim February 1-28, 2018 as Black History Month in the City of Emporia.

Done this 6th day of February in the year 2018.

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African-inspired art exhibit opens in Richmond

 

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By Amelia Heymann, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – To kick off Black History Month, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia is exhibiting four decades of work by Murry DePillars, an artist known for his vivid colors and geometric shapes as well as his political commentary and African-inspired patterns.

“Murry DePillars: Double Vision,” which features 37 pieces of artwork, opens Friday and runs through June 3 at the museum, 122 W. Leigh St. in Richmond. While DePillars did everything from crayon illustration to quilting, most of the exhibit shows off his acrylic paintings.

DePillars’ career spanned four decades, from the 1960s to the early 2000s. His early work, such as the illustration “Aunt Jemima,” deals with socio-economic and political commentary. Unlike his later work, those illustrations used little color. The drawings were created while DePillars was studying art in Chicago and later Pennsylvania.

DePillars was dean of the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1976 to 1999. Tasha Chambers, director of the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, said DePillars was integral in turning VCU into one of the largest art schools in the country. He lived in Richmond until his death in 2008.

Even as a dean at VCU, DePillars continued his own artistic pursuit and travels. On his trips, he carried a suitcase full of art supplies so he could easily work on his art wherever he went. The suitcase he used and two unfinished paintings are featured in the exhibit.

DePillars’ late work contrasts with his early illustrations. Stepping into the upstairs gallery, visitors are greeted by an array of vivid colors and patterns that mimic traditional African beadwork. Within the mixture of geometric shapes are hidden figures and objects.

Chambers said DePillars did extensive research in creating his art and often looked at how Africa as well as the current environment influenced African-American traditions.

The exhibit takes its name from Michael D. Harris, an artist and art historian who applied the term “double vision” in describing the process by which black artists look back to Africa and compare its culture to that of contemporary society. Chambers said the museum also chose this name for the exhibit because it explores not only DePillars’ artistic career but also his role as an educator.

The exhibition coincides with a host of Black History Month events. Chambers said the museum is celebrating black Americans’ contributions to “life, love and liberty” – and also fighting for those values.

“We are celebrating,” Chambers said. But given the current political environment, “we are also still participating in the movement to bring awareness to these things that may now be in jeopardy.”

To find out more about the museum’s events for Black History Month, visit blackhistorymuseum.org.

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February is Black History Month in the City of Emporia

Proclamation

Black History Month

Whereas, February is recognized nationally as Black History Month and Dr. Carter B. Woodson, a distinguished African American author, editor, publisher and historian, is acclaimed “Father of Black History Month”.  Dr. Woodson believed that African Americans should know their past in order to participate in the affairs of the country; and

Whereas, Black History Month acknowledges both past and present African and African-American icons whose courage, sacrifices, and relentless efforts have sought to improve the quality of life for all in the name of justice, honor and freedom; and

Whereas, such noted African-American icons as Ida B. Wells, the renowned writer, teacher, women’s suffragist and anti-lynching crusader; and Rosa Parks, whose famous decision to remain in her seat symbolized the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, have made imperative contributions to our society; and notable local African Americans as Joseph C. Bond, a mortician, was the first African American to serve on Emporia City Council and a founder of the local NAACP branch; Dr. Willie Joyner, a physician and entrepreneur, owned a medical building, a movie theatre, and rental properties; Dr. Joseph Macklin, a pharmacist, was the first African American druggist to manage his own business; Charles Harris, a mechanic, was the first African American to own and operate a service station; Edward Westwood Wyatt, an advocate for improved school conditions for African Americans and a zealous educator, legacy lives on as the first African American High School (E.W. Wyatt High School) was named in his honor; Charlie Stephen Thomas, a businessman and a founder of the local NAACP branch, operated a grocery store across from Greensville County Training School to provide snacks for the students, since there were no cafeterias at that time; Etta Reavis, a homemaker, provided hot meals and shelter for local teachers at R.R. Moton Elementary School; Elizabeth R. Allison, Reverend and Mrs. Willie Curley, Sr., Annie Green, and Helen Kindred provided shelter and meals for the teachers on the North side of town; George C. Williams, a local farmer, purchased a bus to transport students and teachers to school that resided in the county; and

Whereas, the Honorable Mary L. Person was elected as the first African American female to serve on Emporia City Council, made history again when she was elected on  November 6, 2012, as the first African American and first female to serve as Mayor for the City of Emporia; and

Whereas, it is essential to learn from the many lessons of history from world renowned leaders as well as the contributions of local African Americans to continue the pursuit of our Founding Fathers’ vision of liberty, justice and equality for all; and

Now, Therefore, I, Mary L. Person, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Emporia, Virginia do hereby proclaim February 2014 as Black History Month in the City of Emporia.

Done this 4h day of February in the year 2014.

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SVCC Sponsoring the Tenth Annual African American History Quiz

The tenth annual African-American History Contest sponsored by Southside Virginia Community College will challenge what you know and offer a chance to win monetary prizes, too.  Students and the general public are eligible to participate for prizes of $125, $75 and $50.  Sponsors include the SVCC President Dr. John J. Cavan, Student Development and Student Activities.

Contest questions will require some knowledge and/or investigation on the part of the participants. 

Contest materials can be picked up from these SVCC locations now: Southside Virginia Higher Education Center in Emporia from Gary Cifers; the SVCC Christanna Campus in Alberta from Vondrenna Smithers or Susan Early or Louise Ogburn; SVCC John H. Daniel Campus in Keysville from Letina Giles; the Estes Community Center in Chase City from Melissa Robbins; Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston from Kathy Whitt; Occupational Technical Center in Blackstone from LaTonya Fowlkes; and Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill from Makiko Malone.

The deadline for submitting completed entries is 5 pm on Thursday, February 20, 2014.  Celebrate African American History Month by participating in this exciting challenge.  For further information, contact Vondrenna Smithers  at 434-949-1028 or Le’Tina Giles at 434-736-2023.

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February 2014 Declared Black History Month in Greesville County

RESOLUTION #14-99

RECOGNITION OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH

FEBRUARY 2014

WHEREAS, the month of February has been set aside as a time to recognize accomplishments of African-Americans; and

WHEREAS, two natives of Southside Virginia, the late Dr. Charles Drew and Dr. Carter G. Woodson, and many others were instrumental in initiating  scholarly studies of Black History and other historical endeavors; and

WHEREAS, the late Garland P. Faison, was the first African-American to hold elected office in Greensville County; first as Justice of the Peace and then as a member of the Board of Supervisors for 20 years where he was dedicated to improving conditions for all county citizens; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Greensville County Board of Supervisors does hereby recognize February 2014 as Black History Month in Greensville County.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Supervisor encourages all Greensville County residents to actively pursue information that will enlighten them on the many valuable accomplishments to Greensville County by African-Americans.

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