Strong Men & Women in Virginia History Exhibit

Central Rappahannock Regional Library will host the traveling exhibit for this year’s Strong Men & Women in Virginia History August 23-September 29, at Fredericksburg Branch. The Library of Virginia, in partnership with Dominion Energy, honors seven distinguished African American leaders annually by recognizing them as Strong Men & Women in Virginia History. According to the Library of Virginia, these individuals, past and present, are chosen based on their “contributions to the state, the nation, or their professions."

This year’s exhibit honors local resident Marguerite Bailey Young for her work in education and healthcare. In recognition of her work, Young has received several awards, including the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce's Prince B. Woodard Leadership Award. Fredericksburg Branch will be hosting a reception in honor of Marguerite Bailey Young on August 23 at 7:00.

"These men and women offer powerful examples of individuals who refused to be defined by their circumstances. Their biographies are a testament to the determination and perseverance displayed by extraordinary people during challenging times. These individuals demonstrate how African Americans have actively campaigned through education and advocacy for better lives for themselves, their people, and all Americans. It is these many contributions that the Strong Men & Women in Virginia History program seeks to recognize and share.”

Want to read more about African Americans who lived in Virginia? Check our list, CRRL Virginiana: African American Life Stories.

People profiled include: Arthur Ashe, Ella Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Anthony Johnson, James Lafayette, John Mercer Langston, Max Robinson, Anne Spencer, Maggie L. Walker, Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson, and Dr. Roger Arliner Young.

The story of Samuel Johnson, a Virginia free black man, who worked to free the rest of his family from slavery. 

In 1951, Barbara Rose Johns attended an all-black high school in Farmville, Virginia. Though only 15, she led a peaceful protest to end segregation there and with it, the inherent educational inequalities. 

The fascinating, true story was made into a film, which is also available from the library.

Henrietta Lacks became famous after her death as HeLa, which is how the line of cells taken from her during medical treatment is known. HeLa has been part of the polio vaccine, cancer research, and more, but Henrietta Lacks, a poor tobacco farmer, had a life of her own, and that should be spoken of, too.

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