African-American Virginians

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    African-Americans have contributed much to Virginia heritage and culture.

    The following are a few African-Americans with ties to Virginia.

    James Armistead Lafayette James Armistead Lafayette 
    Booker T. Washington Booker T. Washington 
    Maggie Walker Maggie Walker 
    Dr. Edwin B. Henderson Dr. E.B. Henderson 
    Douglas L. Wilder L. Douglas Wilder 
    Tim Reid Tim Reid 
    Blair Underwood Blair Underwood 

    James Armistead Lafayette - (1748*-1830) New Kent; Born into slavery. Joined the American Continental Army to fight for the American Revolution under Marquis de Lafayette. Became a spy. His intel enabled Washington's army to prevent 10,000 British soldiers from invading Yorktown, which led to the British surrender on October 19, 1781. He returned to slave life until granted emancipation by petition in 1787. biography.com/people/james-armistead-537566
    * Some sources indicate James Armistead Lafayette was born in 1760. One such is blackpast.org/?q=aah/lafayette-james-armistead-1760-1832.

    Gabriel Prosser - (1776-1800) Richmond; Born into slavery on the Brookfield Plantation in Henrico County. Educated, literate blacksmith who planned the unfulfilled "Gabriel's Rebellion" in 1800 - a plan to kill every white with the exception of French, Methodist, Quaker and poor. Gabriel was captured and hanged at Richmond's 15th & Broad gallows on October 10, 1800 at the age of 24. aaregistry.org/historic_events/view/freedom-fighter-gabriel-prosser-had-vision 

    Dred Scott - (1795-1858) Southampton County; Born into slavery on the Peter Blow farm. Scott is best known for fighting legally for his freedom and the freedom of his family. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Scott in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857. Seeing the Scotts as too controversial to keep, then owner, Mrs. Emerson, returned the Scotts to the Blow family who granted their freedom in May 1857. biography.com/people/dred-scott-9477240 

    Nat Turner - (1800-1831) Southampton County; Born into slavery on the Turner Plantation where he was taught reading, writing, and religion. Preacher who claimed God called him to lead the slaves from bondage. Led a slave insurrection known as Nat Turner's Rebellion, which resulted in the deaths of more than 50 white people and harsher laws against slaves. biography.com/people/nat-turner-9512211; lva.virginia.gov/exhibits/DeathLiberty/natturner 

    Joseph Jenkins Roberts - (1809-1876) Norfolk; Born free at a time when many were born into slavery. Boarded a ship to Liberia with his mother, six siblings, and wife in 1829. Became a sheriff in 1833; first black governor of the colony of Liberia (1840-1847); elected the first president of the new Republic of Liberia (1848). Served as president twice (1848-1856, 1872-1876). Helped found Liberia College (1851); served as a professor and president.
    virginiamemory.com/online_classroom/shaping_the_constitution/people/joseph_jenkins_roberts 

    Mary Elizabeth Bowser - (1839-unknown) Richmond; Union spy working as a servant for Varina Davis, wife of the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Inducted into the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame (1995). lkwdpl.org/wihohio/bows-mar.htm 

    William Harvey Carney - (1840-1908) Norfolk; First black Medal of Honor recipient, decorated for his "extraordinary heroism on 18 July 1863 ... when the color sergeant was shot down, Sergeant Carney grasped the flag, led the way ... was twice severely wounded." militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=3296 

    Booker T. Washington (1856-1915 ) Hardy; Educator, Founder of Tuskegee Institute. nps.gov/bowa 

    Maggie L. Walker(1864*-1934) Richmond; First woman bank president in America, Advocate of black women's rights distinguishedwomen.com/ biographies/walker-ml.html
    nps.gov/ malw/home.htm
    * A discovery in 2009 revealed bank records showing Walker's birth earlier than the widely believed 1867 date. 

    Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. - (1865-1953) Franklin County; Yale University graduate, prominent minister for Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York between 1908 and 1936. By the time his son took over the pastorate in 1937, church membership totaled 7,000, making it one of the largest Protestant churches in the world. abyssinian.org/about-us/history/ 

    Robert Russa Moton (1867-1940) Amelia County; Educator, Lawyer, successor to Booker T. Washington as President of Tuskegee Institute.

    Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1878-1949) Richmond; Dancer, stage and screen actor in early 1900s. biography.com/people/bill-bojangles-robinson-9460594 

    Dr. Edwin B. Henderson - (1883-1977) Washington, DC, settled in Falls Church for more than 50 years; "Grandfather of Black Basketball;" Introduced basketball to African-Americans on a wide-scale, organized basis in 1904; Author of The Negro in Sports (1939); Principle organizer of the first rural branch of the NAACP.
    tinnerhill.org/about/history 

    Roger Arliner Young - (1889-1964) Clifton Forge; Zoologist; The first African-American woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in zoology. infoplease.com/ipa/A0800427.html 

    Oliver White Hill - (1907-2007) Richmond; Lead attorney with Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, which was consolidated with Brown v. Board of Education at the Supreme Court; First African American Richmond City Council member (1949). Highly decorated with the top-prize being the Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed by President William J. Clinton (1999). brownat50.org/brownbios/BioOliverHill.html 

    Ella Fitzgerald(1917-96) Newport News; "The First Lady of Song;" Grammy Award-winning Jazz Singer. ellafitzgerald.com 

    Pearl Bailey (1918-88) Newport News; Actress, Singer and Author; Tony Award (1967); Medal of Freedom Award (1988). norfolk.gov/WalkOfFame/Pearl_Bailey.asp 

    Wendell Scott  - (1921-1990) Danville; First (and only, as of this publication) African-American to win a NASCAR race (1963); "State Hero" Resolution by the Virginia General Assembly (1991); International Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductee (1999); Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Inductee (2000). legendsofnascar.com/Wendell_Scott.htm 

    L. Douglas Wilder (1931- ) Richmond; First elected African-American Governor in U.S. history vahistorical.org/sva2003/wilder.htm 

    Henry L. Marsh III - (1933- ) Isle of Wight County; Attorney involved with Brown v. Board of Education on the Virginia front; first African American mayor of Richmond (1977-82); Virginia State Senator (1992-present). henrylmarsh.com/about-henry/ 

    Barbara Johns - (1935-1991) New York City, but grew up in Farmville, Prince Edward County. Sixteen year old junior at Robert Russa Moton High School who organized a student strike for a new school building (1951). The NAACP advised the students to sue for integration. The Farmville case was one of the five eventually rolled into the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case that declared segregation unconstitutional (1954). pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_people_johns.html 

    Lonnie Liston Smith (1940- ) Richmond; Jazz pianist and keyboardist recording with notable musicians Pharaoh Sanders and Miles Davis. Meshed jazz with rap in the 90s. lonnielistonsmith.net 

    Don Pullen (1941-95) Roanoke; Jazz pianist, organist, and composer. Well-received in Europe for his avant-garde jazz. donpullen.de 

    Arthur Ashe(1943-93) Richmond; Tennis player, writer, commentator; Wimbledon champion (1975); Medal of Freedom Award (1993).cmgww.com/sports/ashe/about/bio.htm
    arthurashe.org 

    Tim Reid(1944 - ) Norfolk; Actor, writer, director, producer."WKRP in Cincinnati", "Simon & Simon", "Sister, Sister". Co-founder of New Millennium Studios in Petersburg, VA. nmstudios.com 

    Willie Lanier(1945- ) Clover; Football player, Kansas City (1967-77); member, pro football Hall of Fame (1986). profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=122 

    Spencer Christian (1947- ) Charles City; TV weatherman for ABC's "Good Morning America" premierespeakers.com/spencer_christian/bio 

    Joseph B. Jefferson - Richmond/Petersburg; songwriter. "One of a Kind (Love Affair)" performed by The Spinners and released in 1972, topping the R&B Singles Chart and reaching number eleven on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1973. Other songs include "Games People Play," and "Sadie," sampled in "Dear Mama" by Tupac Shakur. allmusic.com/artist/joseph-b-jefferson-p90410/biography 

    Moses Malone(1955- ) Petersburg; basketball player; ABA Utah Stars, St. Louis Spirits (1974-76); NBA Buffalo Braves, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers (1976-95); NBA MVP (1979, '82, '83); named "One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History" (1996); member, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2001). nba.com/history/players/malonem_bio.html 

    Lawrence Taylor (1959- ) Williamsburg; football player; Second Overall Draft Pick (NFL Draft, 1981), New York Giants (1981-93); member, pro football Hall of Fame (1999). profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=212 

    Ralph Sampson - (1960- ) Harrisonburg; basketball player. First Overall Draft Pick (NBA Draft, 1983). Houston Rockets (1983-1987), Golden State Warriors (1987-1989), Sacramento Kings (1989-1990), Washington Bullets (1991), Unicaja Ronda of Spain (1992), Rockford Lightning of CBA (1994-1995). Four-time NBA All-Star (1984-1987), NBA Rookie of the Year (1984), NBA All-Star Game MVP (1985). nba.com/historical/playerfile/index.html?player=ralph_sampson 

    Bruce Smith(1963- ) Norfolk; football player; Outland Trophy winner at Virginia Tech (1984) , First Overall Draft Pick (NFL Draft, 1985), Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins; member, Virginia Sports Hall of Fame (2005); member, College Football Hall of Fame (2006). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Smith 

    Wanda Sykes(1964- ) Portsmouth; Comedienne and actress. Film and television credits include "The Wanda Sykes Show," "The New Adventures of Old Christine," "Evan Almighty," "Monster-in-Law," "Nutty Professor 2," "Chris Rock Show;" Emmy Award Winner (1999, 2002, 2004, 2005). WandaSykes.com 

    Blair Underwood(1964- ) Tacoma, WA moved to different states and graduated from Petersburg High School; Actor, film and television credits include "Dirty Sexy Money," "Full Frontal," "Rules of Engagement," "City of Angels," "LAX," "L.A. Law," "The Event;" NAACP Image Award Winner (1992, '95, '99, 2001). BlairUnderwood.com 

    Pernell Whitaker (1964- ) Norfolk; Boxer; Olympic Gold Medalist (1984); member, International Boxing Hall of Fame (2006). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pernell_Whitaker 

    Jesse L. Martin - (1969- ) Rocky Mount; Actor. Broadway and television credits include "Rent," "New York Undercover," "413 Hope Street," "Alley McBeal," "Law & Order," "Smash" imdb.com/name/nm0552509/ 

    Alonzo Mourning(1970- ) Chesapeake; Basketball player; Second Overall Draft Pick (NBA Draft, 1992), NBA Charlotte Hornets (1992-95), Miami Heat (1995-2002, 2004-08), New Jersey Nets (2003-04); Olympic Gold Medalist (2000). amcharities.org 

    Missy Elliott - (1971- ) Portsmouth; Songwriter, Producer, Arranger, Talent Scout, Record Mogel. Considered the top female hip-hop artist of all time. Four-time Grammy Award Winner (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005). missy-elliott.com 

    Timothy Z. Mosley, aka Timbaland - (1972- ) Norfolk; Songwriter, Producer, Rapper. One of the highest paid musicians according to a 2007 Forbes article, "Hip Hop Cash Kings." Grammy Award Winner (2006). timbalandmusic.com 

    Pharrell Williams - (1973- ) Virginia Beach; Composer, Singer, Producer, Rapper, Fashion Designer. Part of hip-hops most successful production team, The Neptunes, and the performing group N*E*R*D. Three-time Grammy Award Winner (two Grammy Awards in 2003, and one in 2006). n-e-r-d.com 

    Jamie Sharper -  (1974- ) Richmond; Baltimore Ravens (1997-2001); Houston Texans (2002-2004); Seattle Seahawks (2005) espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/1190/jamie-sharper 

    Atiim Kiambu Hakeem-ah "Tiki" Barber - (1975- ) Roanoke; Football player, sports broadcaster, author; NFL New York Giants (1997-2006); NBC's "Today," "Football Night in America" and "Sunday Night Football" (2007-present); identical twin brother of "Ronde" Barber. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiki_Barber 

    Jamael Orondé "Ronde" Barber - (1975- ) Roanoke; Football player, author; NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1997-present); Super Bowl XXXVII winner vs. Oakland Raiders (2003); identical twin brother of "Tiki" Barber. nfl.com/players/rondebarber/profile?id=BAR048197 

    James Farrior -  (1975- ) Richmond; New York Jets (1997-2001); Pittsburgh Steelers (2002-2012); Super Bowl XL and XLIII winner jamesfarriorfoundation.org 

    Allen Iverson -  (1975- ) Hampton; Philadelphia 76ers (1996-2006; Rookie of the Year, 2001 league MVP); Denver Nuggets (2007-2008); Detroit Pistons (2009). Olympic Bronze Medalist (Athens 2004) nba.com/playerfile/allen_iverson/bio.html 

    Darren Sharper -  (1975- ) Richmond; Green Bay Packers (1997-2004); Minnesota Vikings (2005-2008); New Orleans Saints (2009-2010) espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/1203/darren-sharper 

    Plaxico Burress - (1977- ) Norfolk; Pittsburgh Steelers (2000-2004, 2012-present); New York Giants (2005-2008); New York Jets (2011); Super Bowl XLII winner. nfl.com/player/plaxicoburress/2504253/profile 

    Erron Kinney -  (1977- ) Ashland; Tennessee Titans (2000-2005) espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/2199/erron-kinney 

    Michael Vick - (1980- ) Newport News; Football player; NFL Atlanta Falcons (2001-2006); NFL Philadelphia Eagles (2009-present); First African-American quarterback to be drafted first overall in an NFL Draft (2001). First Archie Griffin Award winner (1999). NFL Pro Bowl (2003, 2004, 2005)mikevick.com 

    DeAngelo Hall -  (1983- ) Chesapeake; Atlanta Falcons (2004-2007); Oakland Raiders (2008); Washington Redskins (2008-present)deangelohall.com 

    Michael Robinson - (1983- ) Richmond; San Francisco 49ers (2006-2009); Seattle Seahawks (2010-present); Super Bowl XLVIII winner. realmikerob.com 

    Tremaine "Trey" Aldon Neverson, aka Trey Songz - (1984- ) Petersburg; Singer-Songwriter, Rapper, Producer, and Actor. treysongz.com 

    B.J. Upton -  (1984- ) Norfolk; Tampa Bay Rays (2004-2012); Atlanta Braves (2013-present) espn.go.com/mlb/player/stats/_/id/5970/bj-upton 

    Kendall Langford - (1986- ) - Petersburg; Football player; NFL Miami Dolphins. (2008-2011); NFL St. Louis Rams. (2012-present) nfl.com/player/kendalllangford/270/profile 

    LaShawn Merritt  - (1986- ) Portsmouth; Olympic Gold Medalist (Beijing 2008) lashawnmerrittusa.com 

    Caressa Cameron - (1987- ) - Fredericksburg; 2010 Miss America. missamerica.org/our-miss-americas/2010/2010.aspx 

    Kam Chancellor - (1988- ) Norfolk; Seattle Seahawks (2010-present); Super Bowl XLVIII winner. espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/13336/kam-chancellor 

    Percy Harvin -  (1988- ) Virginia Beach; Minnesota Vikings (2009-2012); Seattle Seahawks (2013-present); Super Bowl XLVIII winner.espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/12569/percy-harvin 

    Russell Wilson -  (1988- ) Richmond; Seattle Seahawks (2012-present); Super Bowl XLVIII winner. nfl.com/player/russellwilson/2532975/profile 

    Chris Brown - (1989- ) Tappahannock; Singer-Songwriter, Dancer, Actor. chrisbrownworld.com 

    Chandler Fenner - (1990- ) Virginia Beach; Seattle Seahawks (2012-present); Super Bowl XLVIII winner. espn.go.com/nfl/player/_/id/15549/chandler-fenner 

    Gabrielle Douglas - (1995- ) Virginia Beach; Gymnast. Olympic Gold Medalist (London 2012). First African-American all-around gymnastics champion. gabrielledouglas.com 

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Last Updated: 3/12/2014 9:07 AM
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