People of African descent have been a part of Virginia's—and America's—story since European colonization of the continent began. Yet the contributions of African Americans have often been ignored, obscured, or underappreciated by those who recorded history. In observance of African American History Month, the Library of Virginia is pleased to honor eight distinguished Virginians as African American Trailblazers for their contributions to the state and nation.

The men and women featured as Trailblazers offer powerful examples of individuals who refused to be defined by their circumstances. Their biographies are a testament to the determination and perseverance displayed by extraordinary people during challenging times. Through education, advocacy, entertainment, or armed rebellion, these individuals demonstrate how African Americans have actively campaigned for better lives for themselves and their people. It is these many contributions that the African American Trailblazers program seeks to share.


African American Trailblazers Essay Contest


2009 African American Trailblazers Student Essay Contest Winners
Essay WinnersCongratulations to the winners of the 2009 African American Trailblazers Student Essay Contest Winners, sponsored by the Library of Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and Comcast. The first place winners were recognized at the Trailblazers reception on February 26, 2009 at the Library of Virginia. View copies of the winning entries.

Grades 3-4
First Place: Nicholas DeLaPena
          Hopkins Road Elementary
          Mrs. Cheatham, 4th Grade
Second Place: Brianna Dudley
          Johnson Elementary
          Ms. Lovett, 3rd Grade
Third Place: Camille Perry
          Johnson Elementary
          Ms. Lovett, 3rd Grade
Grades 5-6
First Place: Imani Brooks
          South Boston Elementary
          Ms. Davis, 5th Grade
Second Place: Taylor Burrell
          Grafton Bethel Elementary
          Ms. Greene, 5th Grade
Third Place: Terence Hardy
          Clarksville Elementary
          Ms. Turner, 5th Grade
Grades 7-8
First Place: Jessica Moniz
          West Point Public Schools
          Mrs. Rice, 8th Grade
Second Place: Annesha Sengupta
          Manchester Middle School
          Ms. Sanders, 7th Grade
Third Place: Marisela Ochoa
          Richmond County Intermediate School
          Mr. Strong, 8th Grade