African American History Education Commission

On August 24th Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order Thirty Nine establishing the Commission on African American History Education. The Governor charged the group with reviewing Virginia’s history standards, and the instructional practices, content, and resources currently used to teach African American history in the Commonwealth; and with examining and make recommendations on the professional development supports needed to equip all teachers for culturally competent instruction.

“The history of African Americans in Virginia, and our nation, is difficult, complex, and often untold. We should strive to make sure every Virginia student has a robust understanding of this important history and its continuous influence on our communities today. A review of this content, instructional practices, and resources currently used to teach African American history in the Commonwealth will help ensure that every graduate enters adult life with comprehensive understanding of the African American voices that contribute to the story of our nation and our Commonwealth.”

Governor Ralph S. Northam
August 24, 2019

Final Report

The Executive Order tasks the Commission with issuing a report no later than July 1, 2020, with recommendations for improving the student experience, including but not limited to:

  1. Technical edits to and recommendations for enriched standards related to African American history;
  2. Broader considerations for the full history and social studies standards review process; and
  3. Necessary professional development and instructional supports for teachers to ensure culturally competent instruction

Members of the Commission

  • Derrick P. Alridge of Charlottesville, Professor of Education and Director of the Center for Race and Public Education in the South, Curry School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
  • Dr. Rosa S. Atkins of Charlottesville, Superintendent, Charlottesville City Schools
  • Edward Ayers of Richmond, Professor of the Humanities, University of Richmond
  • Jarvis E. Bailey of Fredericksburg, High School Administrator, Westmoreland County Public Schools and School Board Member, Fredericksburg City
  • Maria D. Burgos of Prince William County, Supervisor of Global Learning and Culturally Responsive Instruction, Prince William County Public Schools
  • Christy S. Coleman of Chesterfield, CEO, American Civil War Museum
  • Dr. Robert N. Corley, III of Chesterfield, Associate Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs and Project Director, The Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative, Virginia State University
  • Pamela Croom of Hampton, President-Elect, Virginia PTA
  • Dr. Andrew P. Daire of Moseley, Dean of the School of Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Crystal DeLong of Bedford, Teacher, Liberty High School, Bedford County Public Schools
  • Beau Dickenson of Harrisonburg, President, Virginia Social Studies Leaders Consortium and Social Studies Supervisor, Rockingham County Public Schools
  • Crystal M. Edwards of Lynchburg, Superintendent, Lynchburg City Schools
  • Anne Marie Evans of Fluvanna County, Director of Education and Outreach–New American History, University of Richmond
  • Dr. John K. Lee of Raleigh, Professor, North Carolina State University
  • Makya Renée Little of Woodbridge, Parent Advocate and Florida A&M University Alumnus
  • Dr. Monica Manns of Henrico, Director of Equity and Diversity, Henrico County Public Schools
  • Basil Marin of Atlanta, Assistant Principal, DeKalb County Schools
  • Tyrone Nelson of Henrico County, Chairman, Henrico County Board of Supervisors and Pastor, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church of Richmond
  • Dr. Cassandra L. Newby-Alexander of Chesapeake, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Professor of History, Norfolk State University
  • The Honorable Atif Qarni of Prince William, Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Gloria Randolph-King of Roanoke, Retired Roanoke City Public Schools Administrator
  • Rodney Robinson of Richmond, 2019 National Teacher of the Year
  • Dr. Vanessa D. Thaxton-Ward of Hampton, Director, Hampton University Museum
  • Pastor Michelle C. Thomas of Loudoun County, Founder and CEO, Loudoun Freedom Center and President, NAACP Loudoun Branch
  • Dr. Dietra Trent of Halifax, Former Secretary of Education
  • Dr. James F. Lane of Chesterfield, Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Dr. Alice Reilly of Alexandria, Educator, George Mason University
  • Renita S. Williams of Chesapeake, Secondary Social Studies Instructional Supervisor, Newport News Public Schools
  • Rodney Jordan of Norfolk, Co-Chair, Virginia School Boards Association Task Force on Students and Schools in Challenging Environments and School Board Member, Norfolk City
  • Cainan Townsend of Farmville, Director of Education, Robert Russa Moton Museum
  • Chris Van Tassell of Richmond, Program Coordinator and Educator, Virginia Museum of History & Culture
  • Robert C. Watson of Williamsburg, Assistant Professor of History, Hampton University
  • Dr. William E. White of Williamsburg, Visiting Distinguished Scholar, Christopher Newport University
  • Jonathan C. Zur of Richmond, President and CEO, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities

Upcoming Meetings

October 28, 2019
Bristol Train Station
101 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Bristol, VA 24201 

December 16, 2019
The Robert Russa Moton Museum
900 Griffin Boulevard
Farmville, VA 23901

February 18, 2020
Virginia Museum of History and Culture
428 N Arthur Ashe Boulevard
Richmond VA 23220

April 2020 (date TBD)
Arlington Public Schools
2110 Washington Blvd
Arlington, VA 22204

June 15, 2020
Hampton History Museum
120 Old Hampton Ln
Hampton VA 23669

Staff Contact

Holly Coy
Deputy Secretary of Education

Please email Holly if you would like to receive email updates about the work of the Commission.