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He said his own father knew the name of the people who had enslaved their family in Virginia, knew where they lived—in the same house and on the same land—in Hanover County, among the rumpled hills north of Richmond. We would like to see it, if possible. Now, whether the papers were trivial or actual plantation records, who knows? But he stood in the door, in front of my grandfather, and lit a match to the papers. McQuinn was raised in Richmond, the capital of Virginia and the former capital of the Confederacy—a city crowded with monuments to the Old South.

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Your browser is not supported for this experience. We recommend using Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari. There are many powerful stories of Black men and women who courageously rose above adversity and hardship. Virginia is home to many Black history figures, some well-known and others not widely heard, but all have contributed greatly to our culture.

Sally Hemings had at least six children fathered by her owner, Thomas Jefferson. She left no written records of her life; therefore, details are extracted from plantation records, descendant stories, and most importantly, recollections written by her son, Madison. Jefferson did not grant freedom to any other enslaved family unit. Learn more when visiting the The Life of Sally Hemings room at Monticello illuminating the life of one of the most famous and least understood Black women in U. Nat Turner was an enslaved mystical preacher who led a two-day rebellion, known as the Nat Turner Rebellion, of both enslaved and free Black people in Southampton CountyVirginia.

Influential black virginians

Beginning August 21,the rebellion caused the death of approximately 60 white men, women and children and slaves and free Blacks. The rebellion was suppressed at Belmont Plantation on August 23, and resulted in state legislatures passing new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free Black people, restricting right of assembly and other civil liberties for free Black people, and requiring white ministers to be present at all worship services. Born on a plantation in LouisaVirginia, Henry was sent to work in a tobacco factory in Richmond at age He had a wife and four children who were later sold to a plantation in North Carolina.

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This tragic, irrevocable loss of his family fueled his ambition for freedom. Jefferson Davis knew there was a leak of information coming from his house but never suspected Bowser. InMary was honored by the U. Government for her spying during the Civil War and inducted into the U. John Dabney spent the first 41 years of his life enslaved while simultaneously acquiring his reputation as a renowned chef and bartender in Richmond.

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Although free, he continued to pay off his last bit of debt to his owner, which earned him a reputation and ability to secure credit at any bank in Richmond. Booker T. Washington as President of Tuskegee Institute. Virginia Randolph — Richmond; African-American educator. Henrietta Lacks — Roanoke; The progenitor of the HeLa cell line, one of the most notable cell research discoveries ever made.

Retracing slavery’s trail of tears

Her cells lead to many important breakthroughs in biomedical research, including the polio vaccine. Today, the HeLa cell line has been recognized as a globally ificant contribution to medicine and research. Mildred Loving — Mildred Loving and her husband Richard, an interracial couple living in Caroline County, were plaintiffs in the landmark U. Supreme Court case Loving v. The case remains relevant today and frequently cited in the U. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. Maggie L. Sixteen year old junior at Robert Russa Moton High School who organized a student strike for a new school building The Farmville case was one of the five eventually rolled into the Brown v.

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Board of Education of Topeka case that declared segregation unconstitutional Clinton Vernon Johns — Prince Edward; Uncle of Barbara Johns and minister at several Black churches in the South and a pioneer in the civil rights movement. He was succeeded by Martin Luther King Jr. Royal L. While serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives inhe sponsored the state's Racial Imbalance Act, which led to the desegregation of Boston's public schools.

Henry L. Joseph Jenkins Roberts — Norfolk; Born free at a time when many were born into slavery. Boarded a ship to Liberia with his mother, six siblings, and wife in Became a sheriff in ; first Black governor of the colony of Liberia ; elected the first president of the new Republic of Liberia Served as president twice Helped found Liberia College ; served as a professor and president. Randall Robinson — present Richmond; African-American lawyer, author and activist, noted as the founder of TransAfrica.

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He is known particularly for his impassioned opposition to apartheid, and for his advocacy on behalf of Haitian immigrants and Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Anthony W. Gardiner — Southampton; Gardiner was born in Virginia, but relocated with his family to Liberia.

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He became Vice President of Liberia in and was elected President of the country from to Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. By the time his son took over the pastorate inchurch membership totaled 7, making it one of the largest Protestant churches in the world. Bill "Bojangles" Robinson — Richmond; Dancer, stage and screen actor in early s. Meshed jazz with rap in the 90s. Don Pullen — Roanoke; Jazz pianist, organist, and composer.

Well-received in Europe for his avant-garde jazz. Tim Reid — present Norfolk; Actor, writer, director, producer.

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Joseph B. Wanda Sykes — present Portsmouth; Comedienne and actress. Jesse L. Martin — present Rocky Mount; Actor. Considered the top female hip-hop artist of all time. Four-time Grammy Award Winner, Timothy Z. Maxie Cleveland "Max" Robinson, Jr. Robinson was a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists. Four-time Grammy Award Winner two intwo in Caressa Cameron — present Fredericksburg; Miss America.

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Gabrielle Douglas — -present Virginia Beach; Gymnast. Olympic Gold Medalist London First African-American all-around gymnastics champion. Olympic Bronze Medalist Athens Edwin B. Ralph Sampson — present Harrisonburg; basketball player.

Assistant coach for the Monmouth Hawks. Oakland Raiders ; identical twin brother of "Tiki" Barber. First Archie Griffin Award winner NFL Pro Bowl, Virginia is home to more U. Presidents than any other state, but did you know Virginia is also….

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Get a free visitors guide. Visitors Guide. Influential Black Virginians There are many powerful stories of Black men and women who courageously rose above adversity and hardship.

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Freedom Seekers. The Life of Sally Hemings at Monticello. Washington National Monument.

Walker National Historic Site. Bill "Bojangles" Robinson Monument. Athletes Dr.

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