The Library of Virginia, in collaboration with Dominion, presents the 2014 Strong Men & Women in Virginia History. This program highlights eight African American leaders and their achievements.

For information on past honorees (Trailblazers and Strong Men & Women), use the following links: African American Trailblazers and Strong Men & Women: Excellence in Leadership series. Visit our research guide for digital resources on African American History sites.

James Heyward BlackwellJames Heyward Blackwell
(ca. February 1864–October 14, 1931)
Educator and Community Advocate
James Heyward Blackwell advanced the cause of African American public education in Richmond for more than forty years.

William Darnell “Bill” EuilleWilliam Darnell “Bill” Euille
(b. 1950–)
A leader in the political, cultural, and civic life of Alexandria, William Darnell “Bill” Euille became the first African American elected mayor of the city.

Mary Alice Franklin Hatwood FutrellMary Alice Franklin Hatwood Futrell
(b. 1940–)
Educator and Organization Leader
Educator and organization leader Mary Alice Franklin Hatwood Futrell is an advocate for teachers and students in the United States and around the world.

Elizabeth Hobbs KecklyElizabeth Hobbs Keckly
(February 1818–May 26, 1907)
Dinwiddie County
Seamstress and Author
Seamstress and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln, former slave Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly wrote a book detailing her life and experiences in the White House.

Olivia Ferguson McQueenOlivia Ferguson McQueen
(b. 1942–)
Civil Rights Pioneer
Civil rights pioneer Olivia Ferguson McQueen successfully challenged school segregation in 1959, but did not receive her diploma for another fifty-four years.

John MitchellJohn Mitchell Jr.
(July 11, 1863–December 3, 1929)
Newspaper Editor
As editor of the Richmond Planet, John Mitchell, Jr., fought against racism and for African American advancement in politics, business, and education.

James Randolph SpencerJames Randolph Spencer
(b. 1949–)
Federal Judge
James Randolph Spencer is the first African American federal judge appointed from Virginia.

Marcellus Spencer “Boo” WilliamsMarcellus Spencer “Boo” Williams Jr.
(b. 1958–)
Youth Sports Mentor
Marcellus Spencer “Boo” Williams, Jr., created a nationally known summer youth basketball program and led the way in developing a state-of-the-art community sports facility in Hampton.