Our Stories: A Panel Discussion Inspired by Hidden Figures

Our Stories: A Panel Discussion Inspired by Hidden Figures

As fascinating and inspirational as we find the trials and triumphs of the African American women mathematicians profiled in our Rappahannock Reads selection, Hidden Figures, there are many, many such stories that our own friends and neighbors can tell us. We’ve invited some of those friends and neighbors to join us on Thursday, February 23, 7:00, at Headquarters Library for a lively panel discussion and to share with us their stories that parallel, in ways both large and small, those of the women of Hidden Figures. The stories may describe our past, but they will illuminate our present day and inform our future. Our panel members include: Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, Daisy Howard-Douglas, Dorothy Jackson, Johnny Johnson, Sandra and Donald Manigault, Cynthia Montague, Xavier Richardson, and Frank White.  Our moderator will be DeShawn Robinson-Chew.

Come to the library, and join the discussion. We’ll even serve refreshments! Read more about the panel members below.


Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater
Ambassador Bridgewater has enjoyed a celebrated career as a United States Foreign Service Officer who has led diplomatic efforts that helped change the course of world events. A native of Fredericksburg, Ambassador Bridgewater is a graduate of Walker-Grant High School. Ambassador Bridgewater's overseas tours were in Belgium, The Bahamas, Jamaica, South Africa, Benin, and Ghana. She has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and held other domestic assignments in the Department of State. She was the first African American woman to serve as Principal Officer (Consul General) in Durban, South Africa. Additionally, she has the distinction of being the longest-serving U.S. diplomat in South Africa during the historic transition from apartheid. Ambassador Bridgewater retired from active duty in the U.S. Diplomatic Service in November 2013 with the rank of Career Ambassador after 34 years. 


Daisy Howard-Douglas, Storyteller from Westmorland County
Westmoreland County resident Daisy Howard-Douglas is an educator, author, and storyteller. She is the founder and director of the Westmoreland Weavers of the Word Storytellers Guild, a group that performs at schools, churches, museums, and libraries, sharing traditional tales from the African American experience. Mrs. Howard-Douglas serves on the Westmoreland County Board of Education, the Westmoreland County School Coalition Board, the Virginia Storytelling Alliance Board, the Haven Shelter and Services, Inc., and the Central Virginia Health Service. She is a Life and Golden Heritage member of the NAACP and a member the National Education Association.


Dorothy S. Hamn Jackson, Historian of Stafford County
Dorothy S. Hamn Jackson is a lifelong resident of Brooke (Stafford County) and attended secondary schools in Stafford and Walker-Grant High School in Fredericksburg. Mrs. Jackson has a wealth of knowledge of the history of Stafford County, and her historical data was instrumental in the planning of Stafford's 350th anniversary celebration. Mrs. Jackson retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency, Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., with 34 years of government service. 


Johnny Johnson, Local Artist
Johnny Johnson is a well-known and distinguished Fredericksburg art educator and artist. He came to Fredericksburg to teach art at Walker-Grant High School, and has taught at James Monroe High School, Mary Washington College (now University), and Germanna Community College. At 81, Mr. Johnson continues to take on art students. Mr. Johnson majored in art education at Virginia State College (now University), and earned a Master of Fine Arts from Howard University. He has been a community activist, sitting on the Council on Human Relations for the City of Fredericksburg in the 1960s, and acting as the first president of FACRO—the Fredericksburg Area Community Relations Organization—when it was formed in the 1980s.


Sandra and Donald Manigault, Education Advocates
Sandra Manigault, B.S., M.A., is co-founder of The Manigault Institute, a public speaker, writing coach, and a former math teacher at both the high school and community college levels in New York and Fairfax County. She is most recently retired from Northern Virginia Community College. Mrs. Manigault is the author of four books including The Book For Math Empowerment and her latest, the novel, Vanessa—a Love Story. Donald Manigault, B.A., M. Ed., is an educator, abstract artist, and president of The Manigault Institute. He is devoted to helping individuals discover their true purpose and reach their potential. Donald Manigault has helped thousands of young people and adults achieve their educational and personal goals.  


Cynthia D. Montague, Education Advocate
Cynthia Montague is a native of Stafford County where she was instrumental in the integration of public schools. Mrs. Montague, and her sister Doretha were the first African Americans to attend a white-only school. The African American History Mural at the historic Rowser Building displays this event on the "The Path to Freedom; the Path to Opportunity" panel. Mrs. Montague works as a senior program assistant for the National Education Association (NEA) in Washington, D.C.


Xavier R. Richardson, Community Healthcare
Xavier R. Richardson, a native of Fredericksburg, currently serves as the Executive Vice President for Corporate Development and Community Affairs for Mary Washington Healthcare. In this capacity, he also serves as President of Mary Washington Hospital and Stafford Hospital Foundations. Mr. Richardson has volunteered his time and energy as a board member with many community organizations, including The Partnership for Academic Excellence, Fredericksburg Festival of the Performing Arts, the Walker-Grant Cultural and Educational Center, Harambee 360° Experimental Theater, The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington (Fredericksburg Branch), and The Moss Free Clinic. He also serves as Secretary to the Board of Visitors of the University of Mary Washington. Mr. Richardson, a 1975 graduate of James Monroe High School, holds a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University.


Frank M. White, Community Advocate 
Frank M. White was born in the White Oak area of Stafford County.  He graduated from Walker-Grant High School in 1957 and immediately joined the U.S. Air Force. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Sociology with a minor in History from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1972 and his MA Degree in Human Resources Management from Pepperdine University in 1976.  As a graduate of the Department of Defense Race Relations School, he served for several years as an Air Force Race Relations Facilitator. After his Air Force retirement, Mr. White worked for 17 years as a veterans' counselor at the Fredericksburg Employment Commission. Mr. White is a charter member of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. He has served on various area historical boards and committees, such as the Stafford/Fredericksburg/Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee and the Fredericksburg Area Trail to Freedom Committee. Mr. White worked with the Stafford County Branch NAACP and the Stafford 350 Committee to provide information for the mural at the Rowser Building and for the historical markers that were placed at six African American churches in Stafford.


The Our Stories discussion will be moderated by DeShawn Robinson-Chew. Mrs. Robinson-Chew is the founder of She-EO®, LLC, a social enterprise to empower the CEO in every girl through Camp SheEO and SheEO Academy. She is also a 2016 graduate of Leadership Fredericksburg. Mrs. Robinson-Chew encourages female entrepreneurship as a public speaker and adjunct professor at Northern Virginia Community College and at Hampton University.