RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Fifteen new historical markers have been approved for Virginia roads, including signs that highlight the achievements of a NASA employee, voting rights activists and nationally recognized artists.
The Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved the markers during a virtual meeting with the Department of Historic Resources.
Five of the markers were proposed by students during Gov. Ralph Northam’s Black History Month Historical Marker Contest this year:
- Hampton: A marker will highlight the accomplishments of Katharine Coleman Goble Johnson, an African American NASA mathematician who was featured in the 2016 book and movie “Hidden Figures.” Johnson lived from 1918 to 2020.
- Norfolk: A marker will highlight civil rights activist Evelyn Thomas Butts, who fought for voting rights for African Americans. Combined with another case from Fairfax County, a lawsuit brought forth by Butts argued that poll taxes were unconstitutional. The case made it to the Supreme Court, and poll tax requirements in state elections were ruled unconstitutional.
- James City County: A sign will recall Angelo, one of the first documented Africans to arrive to Virginia in 1619. Angelo later labored in a Jamestown household.
- Williamsburg: A marker will recognize Gowan Pamphlet, a Baptist preacher who led secret religious gatherings for African Americans and later established First Baptist Church. Pamphlet lived from 1748 to 1809.
- Richmond: A sign will track the life of Maggie Lena Walker, an African American entrepreneur and civil rights activist at the turn of the 20th century. She became the first Black woman in the U.S. to establish and serve as president of a bank and served on the national board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Three markers will inform the public on women artists:
- Shenandoah County: A sign will highlight the “Creative Women of Fishers Hill,” in remembrance of three women who achieved national prominence for their creative endeavors, but were "later largely forgotten.” The three woman are painters Bertha Von Hillern and Maria J. C. a' Becket, and writer Emma Howard Wight.
- Lynchburg: Two signs in Lynchburg will recognize women artists: landscape and portrait painter Sallie Blount Mahood, and Helen McGehee, internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer, teacher and Mahood’s granddaughter.
Three markers will highlight specific communities:
- Bath County: Two markers will highlight the “West Warm Springs” community that was established by African Americans after the Civil War near Little Mountain. A second marker will recognize more than 200 years since the settlement’s establishment.
- Loudoun County: A marker will recognize the early traces of the Waterford community, originally known as Janney’s Mill.
- Hopewell: A sign will recognize the Kippax Plantation. London native and merchant Robert Bolling acquired the property in the 1600s. According to tradition, Pocahontas’s son Thomas Rolfe and his daughter Jane Rolfe, who married Bolling, are buried there.
The Department of Historical Resources notes that markers do not to honor their subjects, but rather to educate and inform the public about a person, place, or event. Erected markers are not considered memorials. The marker’s sponsor covers the required $1,770 manufacturing expenses for each new sign.
For more information about the Historical Highway Marker Program, visit this website.
Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.