Lexington, Virginia • February 6, 2009
As a special feature of Black History Month, Theodore H. DeLaney, associate professor of history at Washington and Lee University, provides profiles of fourteen African-Americans who have ties to the Commonwealth of Virginia and who played significant roles in the history of both Virginia and the nation.
Some of the individuals profiled here were born in Virginia; others made their mark in Virginia. All were instrumental in the Civil Right movement.
Virginia produced several firsts in black history in the United States. The first black man in the country to graduate from college, graduated from a Virginia college. Nationally-prominent civil rights activists, both male and female, were born in Virginia. The founder of Black History Week (now Black History Month) was a Virginian, as was a national black tennis champion. Virginia elected the first black man to be governor of a state. The nation’s first woman bank president, who happened to be black, was also from Virginia. And, of course, Booker T. Washington, the most famous black leader in the early 20th century, was a Virginian.
Pioneers of their day, and an inspiration to those that followed, these people had one thing in common. Virginia.