Strong Men & Women in Virginia History

William E. Bailey (1940–), Accomack County
Aviation Pioneer and Philanthropist
After a decorated career as a military and commercial pilot, William E. Bailey continues to work for increased diversity in the aviation profession and to expand educational opportunities for African Americans.

Dana Olden Baldwin (March 20, 1881–November 9, 1972), Physician and Entrepreneur
Dana Olden Baldwin was a community physician whose entrepreneurial spirit created a thriving African-American business district in Martinsville.

Melody 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.

Sheila R. Baxter (b. 1955–), Franklin
Brigadier General Army Medical Service Corps
Brigadier General Sheila Baxter was the first female and the second African-American brigadier general in the Army Medical Service Corps.

Gwen Bingham (1959–), Prince George County
Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army
Brigadier General Gwen Bingham was the first woman to serve as quartermaster general of the United States Army.

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

James “Plunky” Branch (b. 1947–), Richmond
Musician and Educator
For decades, multi-talented saxophonist and bandleader James “Plunky” Branch has promoted the cultural importance of music at home and abroad.

Beth Anne Brown (February 4, 1969–October 5, 2008), Roanoke
An astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Beth A. Brown worked to inspire women and minorities to pursue careers in science.

Warren Wesley Buck (1946–), Physicist and Educator
Nationally recognized physicist Warren Wesley Buck III helped create Hampton University’s doctoral program in physics and works to attract a diverse student population to the field.

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

William Harvey Carney (February 29, 1840–December 9, 1908), Norfolk
Medal of Honor Recipient
For his bravery during battle in the American Civil War, Sergeant William H. Carney was the first African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Peter Jacob Carter (1845–1886), Northampton County
Peter Jacob Carter rose from slavery to be an influential member of the General Assembly and sought-after political speaker during the 1870s and 1880s.

Lott Cary (ca. 1780–November 10, 1828), Charles City County
Baptist Minister and Settler of Liberia
Born into slavery, Lott Cary purchased his own freedom and became an early leader in the new West African colony of Liberia.

Mavis Claytor–Ford (1943–), Nurse and Administrator
The first African American to earn a nursing degree from the University of Virginia, Mavis Claytor–Ford focused on geriatric care during her 30-year career at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Jennie Serepta Dean (1848–1913), Manassas
Born into slavery, Jennie Serepta Dean founded a school at a time when segregation limited educational opportunities for African American students.

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

William Darnell “Bill” Euille (b. 1950–), Alexandria
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 Futrell (b. 1940–), Lynchburg
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.

Calvin Coolidge Green (July 19, 1931–February 10, 2011), Civil Rights Activist and Educator
New Kent County
A schoolteacher and military veteran, Calvin C. Green filed a lawsuit in 1965 to compel New Kent County to desegregate its public schools.

Nannie Berger Hairston (1921–), Christiansburg
Community activist
Activist Nannie Berger Hairston strives to make her community a better place.

Leroy Rountree Hassell (August 17, 1955–February 9, 2011), Norfolk
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.

Edwin Bancroft Henderson (November 24, 1883–February 3, 1977), Basketball Pioneer and Civil Rights Activist
Fairfax County
Educator, activist, and basketball pioneer Edwin B. Henderson dedicated his life to serving the African-American community through sports in education and fighting racial discrimination.

Charles Spurgeon Johnson (1893–1956), Bristol
Sociologist and College President
Charles Spurgeon Johnson battled racism early in the twentieth century as a preeminent sociologist, author, educator, and college president.

Elizabeth 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.

Benjamin Joseph Lambert (1937–2014), Optometrist and Legislator
As a longtime community leader in Richmond, Benjamin Lambert practiced optometry in Jackson Ward and served in the Virginia General Assembly.

Earl Francis Lloyd (April 3, 1928–February 26, 2015), Alexandria
Basketball Pioneer
Earl Lloyd was the first African American to play in the NBA and the league’s first African- American assistant coach.

Mamie Evelyn Locke (1954–), Hampton
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.

Mary Janipher Bennett Malveaux (1967–), Judge of the Virginia Court of Appeals
Henrico County
Mary Janipher Bennett Malveaux is the first African-American woman to serve as a judge of Henrico County’s General District Court and the second to sit on Virginia’s Court of Appeals.

Olivia Ferguson McQueen (b. 1942–), Charlottesville
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 Mitchell (July 11, 1863–December 3, 1929), Richmond
Newspaper Editor
As editor of the Richmond Planet, John Mitchell, Jr., fought against racism and for African American advancement in politics, business, and education.

Robert Russa Moton (1867–1940), Hampton
Early in the twentieth century, Robert Russa Moton was one of the foremost African American educators in the United States.

Alonzo Harding “Zo” Mourning (b. 1970–), Chesapeake
Basketball Player and Philanthropist
Hall of Fame basketball player Alonzo Mourning Jr. is a champion of charitable causes and persevered against kidney disease.

Leonard Muse (1923–), Pharmacist
Arlington County
For more than 60 years, pharmacist Leonard Muse has been a community leader in the historically African-American neighborhood of Nauck in Arlington County.

Claude 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.

Xavier R. Richardson (1957–), Fredericksburg
Mentor/executive and community leader
Xavier R. Richardson is a fervent advocate for underprivileged youth.

Angela Edwards Roberts (1953–), Judge and Youth Advocate
As a judge in Richmond’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Angela Edwards Roberts has been a forceful advocate for vulnerable youth and families within the criminal justice system.

Michael 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.

Stephanie Therese Rochon–Moten (1965–2015), Television News Anchor and Cancer Treatment Advocate
News anchor Stephanie Rochon raised breast cancer awareness through her award-winning “Buddy Check 6” news segments.

Robert L. Satcher Jr. (1965–), Hampton
The first orthopedic surgeon to fly into space, Robert L. Satcher's mission aboard the space shuttle Atlantis included spacewalks to repair robotic arms on the International Space Station.

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

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

Margaret Ellen Mayo Tolbert (1943–), Scientist
Throughout her pioneering career in science, Margaret Ellen Mayo Tolbert has encouraged and inspired women and minorities to choose careers in math and science.

Wyatt Tee Walker (1929–2018), Petersburg
Civil rights activist
A nationally celebrated Baptist minister, Wyatt Tee Walker was a pioneer in the Civil Rights movement.

Marcellus Spencer “Boo” Williams (b. 1958–), Hampton
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.

Jamelle Smith Wilson (b. 1968–), Hanover County
Jamelle Smith Wilson is the first woman and first African American to lead the Hanover County Public School Division.

Marguerite Bailey Young (1928–), Educator and Health Care Advocate
Marguerite B. Young has dedicated her life to education, community service, and accessible health care.

Library of Virginia