Honoring Black Virginians Who Served During Reconstruction

Black Virginians Honored in Richmond

Update: Click here for additional information from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Commission’s website.

The plaques include the names names of 24 African-Americans who took part in Virginia’s constitutional convention of 1867-68 and the names of 14 black people who served terms in the state Senate between 1869 and 1890. Two additional plaques list the names of 85 African-Americans who served in the House of Delegates between 1869 and 1890. Just the kind of heritage you want to see commemorated in the Richmond area. Read the story here.

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9 comments… add one

  • Patrick Young Sep 18, 2013

    Very nice. However, since most/all of the African Americans honored were Republicans, the absence of quotes from the Virginia Republican Party was noticeable.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 18, 2013

      It is a very appropriate honor. No doubt, many of these men served during the brief period in which the Readjuster Party controlled the state. I sometimes wonder whether William Mahone ought to be remembered publicly in some way for his role in advancing the interests of the state’s black population. Perhaps a blog post is in order.

      • Patrick Young Sep 18, 2013

        I think that is correct. Including people like Longstreet and Mahone in the discussion of Reconstruction takes it beyond good and evil in into the realm of practical politics.

      • wwhitley Sep 24, 2013

        Kevin, many thanks for highlighting this. One point of clarification, however. Although true that most African Americans aligned with the Readjuster movement, there were many members of the General Assembly who pre-dated the movement’s rise to power. Often they had prickly relations with the Readjusters, preferring a “straight-out” approach (i.e. straight Republican). Many of these members got squeezed out when the Readjusters assumed control of Virginia’s Republican Party in the 1880s. There were, in short, some complicated dynamics at work.

        • Kevin Levin Sep 24, 2013

          Thanks for the comment. You are absolutely right and I should have made that clearer in my post. As I stated in the post the plaques honor those men who served during a period that overlapped with the four years of Readjuster control. One of the things that I wanted to clarify in the post is the unlikely source of a political framework and patronage that benefited a large percentage of Virginia’s black population. Robert Paul was one such black Republican who had a difficult time with the Readjusters.

  • James Harrigan Sep 18, 2013

    Thanks much for posting this, Kevin. Great to see some of Virginia’s neglected history get public recognition.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 18, 2013

      My pleasure.

  • Brad Sep 18, 2013

    It’s great to see some positive news for a change and I second the suggestion for a post about William Mahone.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 18, 2013

      Indeed, but sad to think of the likelihood that for many this ridiculous Confederate flag that will likely be raised off of I-95 will overshadow so much of this positive commemorative work.

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