P.O. BOX 2120



January 25, 2008



Division Superintendents



Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction



Black History Month Resources


African Americans are prominent in Virginia and American history. The famous historian, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, a native Virginian and the son of former slaves, brought this fact to the world's attention by founding the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, publishing several scholarly works and establishing Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month. Every February, America and Virginia observe Black History Month celebrating and honoring the many achievements and contributions made by African Americans to the economic, cultural, and political development of America. The Virginia Department of Education is pleased to provide teachers and school divisions with Black History Month resources. These resources support the 2001 History and Social Science Standards of Learning.


A new resource, Virginia African American Trailblazers, highlights the historic contributions of African Americans since the first Africans arrived in Jamestown in 1619. These twelve legendary figures enriched the arts, sciences, politics, education, and business throughout the 400-year history of the Commonwealth. Instructional resources and biographical information on the twelve trailblazers is available online at


The U.S. Department of Education, Federal Resources for Educational Excellence, provides an in-depth collection of African American resources at


African American History Sites from the Library of Virginia focus on topics in Virginia history and are available at


Many African Americans have figured prominently in their respective fields throughout the past century, including such distinguished Virginians as Oliver W. Hill, Esquire, whose 1954 argument in Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, mandated the integration of America's public schools; Mrs. Maggie Walker, a prominent civic leader and founder and President of the St. Luke Penny Bank, the first American bank established and operated by a woman of any race; the Honorable L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia's sixty-sixth Governor and the first African American from any state to win a gubernatorial election; the late Arthur Ashe, winner of the U.S. Open and Wimbledon tennis championships; and Gabriel Prosser, a charismatic blacksmith, owned by Thomas Prosser of Henrico County, who planned to enter Richmond with force, capture the Capitol and the Virginia State Armory, and hold Governor James Monroe hostage to bargain for freedom for Virginia's slaves.  Many other African Americans have made important contributions to our society, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., our nation's greatest civil rights activist; Jackie Robinson, the first African American to integrate Major League Baseball; Thurgood Marshall, the first African American United States Supreme Court Justice; and Rosa Parks, whose famous decision to remain in her seat symbolized the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.

For more information, please contact Betsy Barton, specialist for history and social science, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 225-3454.