During Black History Month, we honor the many contributions of Black Americans to our Commonwealth and our country.
Black Americans have held a central place in the history of our Commonwealth since the very beginning. In 1619, a Dutch trading ship carrying African slaves arrived in Point Comfort, Virginia, marking the beginning of the wicked and evil practice of slavery in what would become the United States. 246 years later, it was also in Virginia, near the tiny village of Appomattox, that the bloody conflict to end slavery finally came to an unofficial end with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Since that time, Black Virginians have played a pivotal role in everything from the Civil Rights Movement to the growth of industry and business. Booker T. Washington, the founder of the Tuskegee Institute, was born and attended college in Virginia. Maggie Walker, a lifelong Virginian, became the first Black woman to charter a bank and become a bank president. In 1990, Douglas L. Wilder became the first Black American ever elected as Governor.
Black Virginians are continuing to make history today. Our current Lieutenant Governor, Winsome Earle-Sears, is the first Black woman ever elected statewide in Virginia, and has served with distinction in that role.
As we reflect on the countless cultural, political, and economic contributions of Black Americans, we recommit to learning from our shared past to create a more prosperous future.