The Library of Virginia and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography Celebrate Black History Month

2008 Notable African Americans In Virginia History

In observation of African American History Month, the Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the availability of our "Notable African Americans in Virginia History" educational resources. This is the second year of a project to provide more online information about the remarkable people whose lives appear in the Library of Virginia’s Dictionary of Virginia Biography. In this short list you will find activists and educators, a minister and a physician, a musician and a dancer. The biographies and supplemental resources for the honorees provide glimpses into the lives and life works of these important Virginians. Some of the honorees are better known than others, but all of their life stories speak to the power of remarkable character—perseverance, talent, and a willingness to help others—to change lives and to change history.

Click on the name of each nominee to view the biography and sources from the honoree’s life. We hope that you share the stories of these history makers with your community.

The 2008 honorees are:

Blind Billy

Blind Billy (ca. 1805–1855)

Fields Cook

Fields Cook (ca. 1817–1897)
Richmond and Alexandria
Baptist minister and Republican Party leader

John Wesley Cromwell

John Wesley Cromwell (1846–1927)
Portsmouth, Norfolk County, and Alexandria
Educator and Journalist

Janie Porter Barrett

Janie Porter Barrett (1865–1948)
Hampton and Hanover County

Percy Casino Corbin

Percy Casino Corbin (1888–1952)
Pulaski County
Physician and Civil Rights Advocate

Edna Meade Colson

Edna Meade Colson (1888–1985)

Aline Black

Aline Black (1906–1974)
Educator and Civil Rights Advocate

More information on African Americans and other Virginia leaders may be found in the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, ed. John T. Kneebone et al. (Richmond, 1998— ). An online finding aid to the 1,400 biographies and 3 volumes published to date is available at

If you have any questions or comments about our educational content, please write us at

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