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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam made the following statement on Black History Month, which is celebrated nationwide during February.
“For too long, the stories we have told about Virginia’s history have diminished or ignored the contributions of African Americans. Black History Month is just one way we honor these tremendous accomplishments and ensure more people have a full and accurate understanding of our past.
As we work to better tell our true story, I encourage all Virginians to pause and recognize the depth of contributions Black Americans have made to the fabric of our Commonwealth and nation. Let’s not just do this today, tomorrow, or one month out of the year—but every day. Black history is American history.”
Governor Northam today issued a proclamation to commemorate February as Black History Month in the Commonwealth. The theme of 2020’s national Black History Month is “African Americans and the Vote.” This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave black men the right to vote, and the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
Historic Justice and Equity
Throughout February, Virginia museums and historical sites will be hosting free public events to tell stories of accomplishments and contributions by African Americans. A list of such events can be found here.
Governor Northam’s proposed budget also includes a variety of measures to increase awareness of African American history, including $2.5 million to support K-12 attendance at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, over $7 million to support Historic African
American sites, and over $2 million to provide students from across the Commonwealth the ability to visit the American Civil War Museum. Learn more about the Governor’s historic justice and equity agenda here.
Historic Marker Unveilings
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources is working with local partners to unveil new historic markers honoring African American Virginians. The following events are free and open to the public.
The Irene Morgan Story (Gloucester County)
Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 10:00 AM
2425 Hayes Road, Hayes, Virginia 23072
Palmer Hayden (1890–1973) (Stafford County)
Saturday, February 1, 2020 at 2:00 PM
Widewater State Park (next to the Visitor Center), 101 Widewater State Park Road, Stafford Courthouse, Virginia 22554
Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson
Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 2:30 PM
1100 Bank Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219
First Baptist Church
Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 11:00 AM
236 Harrison Street, Petersburg, Virginia 23803
Governor Northam’s Commission on African American History Education continues to review the Commonwealth’s K-12 history standards to ensure Virginia students are taught an accurate and comprehensive version of Virginia’s history. The Commission will be hosting a listening tour in February and March—exact dates will be announced next week.
Governor Northam has also launched an inaugural Black History Month Historical Marker Contest. The contest encourages schools to feature a different African American historical marker each day of February, provides teachers with resources to guide history discussions, promotes Black History Month events around the Commonwealth, and initiates a competition for students to submit ideas for new historical markers to the Virginia Department of Historical Resources. More information on this contest can be found here.
General Assembly Legislative Session
Governor Northam continues to encourage Virginians to make their voices heard during the General Assembly session.
The legislature is working to remove racist and discriminatory language that remains on Virginia’s books, as a result of Governor Northam’s Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law. The Commission’s interim report can be found here.
The General Assembly is also considering Governor Northam’s proposed budget, which includes a wide variety of equity measures. A full list of equity measures in the Governor’s proposed budget is available here.
Virginians can also share their perspective through the Virginia African American Advisory Board. Board meetings are free and open to the public. The next Board meeting will be held Friday, February 7, 2020 at 9:30 AM in the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond. For a full list of upcoming Board meetings, please see here.
The full text of Governor Northam’s Black History Month proclamation is available here or below.
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