The Library of Virginia, in collaboration with Dominion, presents the 2016 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.

Melody C. BarnesMelody C. Barnes
(1964–)
Richmond
Attorney and Government Official
Fulfilling her passion for public service, Melody C. Barnes has been working to shape domestic policy in Washington, D.C., for more than 20 years.

Thomas CannonThomas Cannon Sr.
(August 3, 1925–July 2, 2005)
Richmond
Philanthropist
A postal worker who lived frugally, Thomas Cannon Sr. was a philanthropist who gave away more than $156,000 during his lifetime.

Clarence M. DunnavilleClarence M. Dunnaville Jr.
(1933–)
Roanoke
Attorney
Attorney and civil rights activist Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. advocates equal justice and equal opportunities for all Americans.

Leroy Rountree HassellLeroy Rountree Hassell Sr.
(August 17, 1955–February 9, 2011)
Norfolk
Judge
A respected lawyer and jurist, Leroy Rountree Hassell Sr. was the first African American to serve as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Mamie Evelyn LockeMamie Evelyn Locke
(1954–)
Hampton
Legislator
Mamie Evelyn Locke was the first African-American woman elected mayor of Hampton and the third African-American woman elected to the Senate of Virginia.

Claude Grandford PerkinsClaude Grandford Perkins
(1941–)
Richmond
President of Virginia Union University
Appointed the 12th president of Virginia Union University in 2009, Claude Grandford Perkins has worked tirelessly to expand the school's horizons and preserve its future.

Michael RobinsonMichael Robinson
(1983–)
Richmond
Football Player and Youth Mentor
A success in the classroom and on the gridiron, Super Bowl champion Michael Robinson encourages students to strive academically and participate in community service.

Anne Bethel SpencerAnne Bethel Spencer
(February 6, 1882–July 27, 1975)
Lynchburg
Poet
Harlem Renaissance poet Anne Bethel Spencer was also an advocate for the civil rights of African Americans.