(Caption: Artist’s depiction of a skirmish at Harpers Ferry between local citizens and militia and the raiders. Dangerfield Newby was the first raider to die, killed in a street fight. Harper’s Weekly.)

VIRGINIA: Gov. Northam announces winners of historical highway markers dedicated to Black History in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – Governor Ralph Northam announced five new state historical highway markers that recognize African American history in the commonwealth.

The historical markers were submitted by Virginia students through the second annual Black History Month Historical Marker Contest.

The Black History Month Historical Marker Contest invites students, teachers, and families to learn more about African Americans who have made important contributions to Virginia history and submit ideas for new historical markers to the Department of Historical Resources.

The following is a list of winners of the new markers:

  • Dangerfield and Harriet Newby – Dangerfield Newby, who was born enslaved in Virginia and later lived free in Ohio, was killed in John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry as he fought to free his wife, Harriet, and their children from slavery.
  • Mary Richards Bowser – born enslaved, became a missionary to Liberia, a Union spy in the Confederate White House during the Civil War, and a teacher at freedmen’s schools.
  • John Lyman Whitehead Jr. – Whitehead served in World War II as a Tuskegee Airman and is credited with being the Air Force’s first African American test pilot and the first African American jet pilot instructor.
  • Edwin Bancroft Henderson – a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame known as the “Father of Black Basketball,” organized athletic leagues for African Americans, wrote The Negro in Sports (1939), organized the first rural chapter of the NAACP, and was president of the NAACP Virginia state conference as he worked for civil rights.
  • Samuel P. Bolling – Born into slavery in 1819, Bolling later became a successful entrepreneur and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates as a member of the Readjuster Party, a biracial coalition that accomplished significant reforms in the 1880s.

Virginia has created more than 2,600 markers along Virginia’s roadways, but only 350 markers highlighted African Americans as of January 2020.

Since then, 42 state historical highway markers about African American history have been approved.

The new markers are set to be approved by the Board of Historic Resources for approval at its upcoming meeting on June 17.