Welcome! In February, people all over the United States celebrate Black History Month—because Black history is American history. Though we cannot gather to celebrate in-person right now, we must find creative ways to honor Black Virginians this month, and throughout the rest of the year.
Throughout history, stories of incredible African Americans have frequently been ignored and silenced. Black History Month is one opportunity to acknowledge and honor these stories of bravery, innovation, and passion. Last year, the Governor created the Black History Month Historical Marker Contest so students and families could learn more about African Americans who have made important contributions to Virginia history. The project also provides educators with resources
to guide their classes through important discussions, and initiates a contest for students to submit ideas for new historical markers to the Department of Historical Resources.
Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with installation of the first markers along U.S. 1, is the oldest marker program in the nation. This program recognizes and chronicles events, accomplishments, sacrifices, and personalities of historic importance to Virginia’s story. The Virginia Department of Transportation and the Department of Historic Resources manage the program.
There are more than 2,600 historical markers along Virginia’s roadways, but only 370 markers honor African Americans.
In its inaugural year, the Black History Month Historical Marker Contest received more than 285 submissions from students, including more than 60 students who suggested a marker for civil rights leader Barbara Johns.
Last June, Governor Northam announced 20 newly approved state historical highway markers that honor important topics in Virginia’s African American history. Ten of the 20 new markers were suggested by students across the Commonwealth in the Governor’s inaugural Black History Month Historical Marker Contest.
This year, we need you to help us continue telling a true and inclusive history of our Commonwealth by nominating a Virginia individual, event, or theme which relates to Black History and should be recognized with a historic marker
After receiving your submissions by March 15th, the Governor’s Cabinet and Virginia Department of Historic Resources will work together to select a few winning submissions which will become new historical markers to honor African American Virginians.
We are excited to see what you come up with!