CHANTILLY, Va. (WDVM)– Governor Ralph Northam has announced five new state historical highway markers addressing Black history in Virginia. It all started in 1927 with the installation of the first makers along U.S route 1.
Students suggested new markers through the second annual Black history month marker contest to learn more about African Americans who have made important contributions.
Governor Ralph Northam said, “Black history as was said earlier is Virginia history. Black Virginians have advanced the stem disciplines, deepened faith communities, improved education, and championed justice in the last 400 years.”
This year 100 submissions were received and five were selected. The student winners discussed why the African American figure they chose is important to them.
Valia Anderson, Kings Glen Elementary Student said, “The story of Dangerfield and Harriet Newby meant a lot to me and most students don’t learn about them when they learn about John Brown’s raid. They’re Virginians who are important in history and it’s sad so many people have never heard of them. I’m proud I was able to do something to try and change that.”
Diving deeper into history, one student connects his love with basketball to commemorate “The Father of Black Basketball.”
One student said, “I researched Edwin Bancroft Henderson and chose to nominate him because I love basketball. He introduced Black athletes in Washington D.C. and developed school basketball leagues. Without him, a lot of basketball players may not have ever played. As I researched him I learned that what he did not only for basketball but for civil rights.”
Virginia has erected more than 2,600 markers along Virginia’s roadways, but only 350 markers highlighted African Americans as of 2020. 42 state historical highway markers about African American history have been approved. Ten of these new markers were suggested by students during the governor’s inaugural Black history month historical marker contest in 2020, and the five new markers are expected to be approved by the board of historic resources for approval at its upcoming meeting on June 17th.