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Civil Rights History in Virginia

Civil Rights Memorial

Follow the stories as you visit Virginia’s museums, monuments, and exhibits along the U.S. Civil Rights Trail to understand the struggle through some of the most difficult yet inspiring periods of American history. 

Last Updated: 11/12/2019

Learn about the people and places that left their mark on the Civil Rights movement in Virginia by visiting one of these historic sites.

Virginia Civil Rights Historic Sites

Student Civil Rights Movement

American Evolution: Birthplace of the Students Civil Rights Movement

The quest for equality goes back hundreds of years. Here are Black Virginians who knowingly, and sometimes unknowingly, made their mark for Civil Rights in Virginia.  

Dred Scott (1795-1858) - Born into slavery. Fought for his and his family's freedom, eventually going to the Supreme Court in 1857. Info

Nat Turner (1800-1831) - Born into slavery. Became a literate preacher who led a slave insurrection known as Nat Turner's Rebellion, which led to the deaths of 50+ white people and harsher laws for slaves. Info

Civil Rights  Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) - Born into slavery. Was freed at the end of the Civil War and sought an education, and to educate others. Founded the Tuskegee Institute. Info

Irene Morgan Kirkaldy (1917-2007) - Born in Baltimore; died in Virginia. Defied Jim Crow laws in 1944 by not giving her seat on the bus to a white couple. A sign in Saluda, Middlesex County marks the spot. Supreme Court ruled interstate transportation segregation unconstitutional in Morgan v. Virginia (1946). Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2001. Received the NAACP Oliver W. Hill Freedom Fighter Award in 2002.

Maggie L. Walker (1864-1934) - Sought the advancement of women and African Americans. The first black female bank president and co-founder of the Richmond chapter of the NAACP. Info

Civil Rights Question Robert Russa Moton (1867-1940) - Lawyer and educator who succeeded Booker T. Washington as the President of the Tuskegee Institute. Info

Dr. Edwin B. Henderson (1883-1977) - Dubbed "Grandfather of Black Basketball" and organizer of the first rural branch of the NAACP. Info

Oliver White Hill (1907-2007) - Lead attorney on the Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County which consolidated with other cases for the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case. First black Richmond City Council member. 1999 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. Info

L. Douglas Wilder (1931- ) - Korean War veteran and Bronze Star recipient. Attorney, the first black state senator in Virginia since Reconstruction, lieutenant governor, and the first black governor in the United States. Info

Henry L. Marsh III (1933- ) - Attorney, Richmond's first black mayor, and Virginia senator. Info

Barbara Johns (1935-1991) - Born in New York. Raised in Virginia. As a high school student Johns organized a student strike which ultimately led to a court case that would be included in the Brown v. Board of Education case, which declared segregation in education unconstitutional. Info

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