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A Speciial Supplement of The Progress-Index

Porcher Taylor

Carl Winfield

Blair Underwood

Porcher Taylor selected as Virginiian ian of the Year Carl Winfield Tribute Journey Exhibit looks at Chesterfield’s African-American Schools Area rich with black history MLK, Petersburg had special connection Frederick Douglass, inspirational figure Petersburg African-American Pioneers



Porcher Taylor selected as Virginian of the Year by Virginia Press Association FROM STAFF REPORTS

PETERSBURG — Porcher L. “P.T.” Taylor Jr. has received many awards and accolades over the years, but the latest recognition of his accomplishments many well be the one that is extra special. Taylor recently has been named the Virginia Press Association 2014 Virginian of the Year. “It’s a great honor,” Taylor said. “I appreciate even being nominated.” Taylor is a long-time community activist with a distinguished military and academic career. The Petersburg resident is one of the few Americans who have fought in three wars in two branches of the Armed Services while breaking racial barriers along the way. “There is no question that he has certainly demonstrated superior achievement for the betterment of our community,” Delegate Rosalyn R. Dance, D-Petersburg, wrote in a nomination letter. Dance noted that Taylor has been chair of the Downtown Churches United Walk for Hunger for the past 36 years. The annual event has raised money to “feed the homeless, provide prescription drugs and help the less fortunate throughout the TriCities area,” she added. Taylor will receive the award at a dinner reception in his honor April 4 at the VPA annual conference in Henrico County. Taylor was chosen by a Virginian of the Year committee. The 88-year-old Petersburg resident has lived an extraordinary life; he served in the Navy during World War II and later served in the Army in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War. His service to this country has also shaped his own life. “Every time I get the chance to speak to young people, I try to work into my speech that once you finish high school, get involved in some type of national program, no matter what it is, and volunteer for this country,” Taylor said. He was able to use the power of the GI Bill to pay for his education earning a bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree. “They were all paid for by Uncle Sam.” In addition to gaining access to benefits such as the GI Bill, Taylor says he believes volunteering for service can help mature a M2

young person. Instead of just giving a few years of service to the country, Taylor gave 25 years to a military career. When he retired in 1976, he said he felt like he still had more to give back. “But I was done with the military,” he added with a laugh. That’s when Taylor began working with Virginia State University. He became vice president of student affairs and served in that capacity for 11 years. “That’s when I retired,” he said. Taylor’s idea of retirement is far from doing nothing. He quickly found himself involved in giving his time and talents to more than 30 different local organizations. “I felt compelled to answer God’s mandate of providing food and shelter for the people,” Taylor said. “And every one of those organizations helps to fulfil that mandate.” Taylor said the organization which most directly helps to serve that need is Downtown Churches United in Petersubrg. “I think that one reaches the most people,” he said. Working with DCU, Taylor has organized the annual Walk Against Hunger for the past 37 years. “We’ve probably raised three-quarters of a million dollars through that event over that time.” Cindy Morgan, publisher of The Progress-Index, stressed Taylor’s long list of civic achievements and his role in breaking racial barriers in a letter nominating him for the award. “Dr. Porcher Taylor is an incredible human being who has an incredible list of accomplishments,” Morgan wrote. “He is a true humanitarian who is very engaged in service and giving back to others.” Taylor continues to work closely with numerous organizations, including the Boy Scouts. Taylor said that when he was PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO young he joined the Boy Scouts and Col. Porcher Taylor speaks about the history of African-Americans in the military, achieved its highest award, Eagle Scout. including the Tuskegee Airmen and 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, during the “I’ve been a Scout ever since,” Taylor 28th annual Petersburg-Dinwiddie Crime Solvers Breakfast. About 50 people, says. Please see P.T. TAYLOR, Page 4

Sunday, February 16, 2014 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA



including law enforcement officers and students from Dinwiddie County schools, attended the event Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at Union Station in Petersburg.

Tribute journey will take Exhibit looks at Carl Winfield to Tenn., Ala. Chesterfield County’s

African-American schools FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHESTERFIELD — The face of Audrey Ross, a member of the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia, radiated pride as she pointed to a young boy in a blackand-white photograph of county school children from the 1920s. Despite the fact that the all AfricanAmerican Midlothian Elementary School class in the picture stood outside of a very worn and small building that served as their school, they were dressed in their best. The young boy was Walter Ross Sr., who would later become the father of Audrey Ross. Walter Ross Sr. was a product of a segregated school system mandated by the Virginia Constitution in 1870. PATRICK KANE/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTO

Carl Winfield speaks about his walk from Suffolk to Petersburg to commemorate the Poor People’s Campaign. FROM STAFF REPORTS

PETERSBURG — Carl Winfield, known for embarking on a 131-mile march from Petersburg to Washington in 2009 in honor of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is planning a tribute that will take his feet even further. Winfield plans to embark on a nearmonth-long journey in March that will take him from Petersburg to Memphis, Tenn., and then from Birmingham to Montgomery, Ala., before coming back to Petersburg. Winfield also said the march is in honor of the late Nelson Mandela. “I can’t forget my African friend,” he said. Winfield plans to set off from Good Shepherd Baptist Church on March 7 and to complete the trip on the first of April. He estimates that his first pit stop will be Danville. The 2009 walk was meant to commemorate a march from Petersburg to Washington which King originally planned as part of his Poor People’s Campaign. In 1968, Winfield was asked by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to

help organize the march, which was postponed when King decided to go to Memphis, Tenn., where an African-American man had been killed in a demonstration of sanitation workers. King never made it to Petersburg; he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, the day the march was to begin. More recently, the 66-year-old Winfield honored King in April 2013 when he walked from Suffolk to Petersburg, and then from Petersburg to the Richmond International Airport. The walk from Suffolk to Petersburg took 13½ hours. Winfield said the portion of his latest walk that spans from Virginia to Tennessee is in honor of the Memphis sanitation strike. Winfield said more people should honor King’s mission to advocate for the poor. “We don’t talk about the poor anymore. That is something we should always talk about,” he said. It’s not just about black people, it’s about all people. ... Someone has suffered in the world and is still suffering.”

Walter Ross Sr. became a licensed tailor and owned a shop in Chesterfield. He later motivated his daughter to reach for more. “He used to say, ‘I walked 3 miles to school everyday, so you’re going to college,’ ” Audrey Ross said. She used to wonder why he would say this; later in her life it became apparent why her father and others in his generation were so insistent. “They realized how important it was sacrificing and walking miles. In spite of it, they achieved a lot,” she said. The African-American History Committee of the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia, worked to gather older photographs of county residents, depicting Audrey Ross’s father and others. Please see EXHIBIT, Page 8

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(804) 454-1888 12230 Iron Bridge Rd., Suite B • Chester, VA 23831 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA Sunday, February 16, 2014




Area rich with black history T

he Petersburg area has a rich African-American heritage that dates from the earliest English settlers in the 1600s to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. In the 1600s, English colonists sailed up the James and Appomattox rivers, and built settlements alongside Native Americans and brought with them their indentured servants and slaves as laborers. In the 1700s, more enslaved Africans entered Virginia at Bermuda Hundred, in today’s Chesterfield County, than at any other place in Virginia. Later in the century, the area was a hotbed of abolitionist sentiment and home to many of the movement’s leaders. The area’s population of free blacks grew and gained a degree of economic independence. By 1860 Petersburg had one of the largest free African-American populations of any Virginia city, and proportionally, one of the largest in the nation. The first black Baptist church in America, First African Baptist Church, was founded in 1774 in Prince George County. It later moved to Petersburg where it became known as the First Baptist Church and still operates at 236 Harrison Street. During the Civil War, African-Americans both built the Confederate fortifications that protected Petersburg and distinguished themselves in attacking those fortifications with the Union Army as U.S. Colored Troops. African-American troops captured City Point from which Union General Grant directed the Siege of Petersburg. AfricanAmerican troops were key combatants for the Union effort to break the siege lines during the 1864 Battle of the Crater. In the 1880s, free blacks in the Petersburg Area aligned themselves with former Confederate General Billy Mahone, who helped found Virginia’s first public college for African-Americans, The Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, now known as Virginia State University, located in Chesterfield County. Jim Crow segregation laws in Virginia were finally broken by the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visited the area repeatedly, culminating in a major M4

speech at Virginia State University on July 2, 1965.

Historic Sites and Tours • Pocahontas Island This tiny island on the Appomattox River is thought to be Petersburg’s earliest predominantly African-American neighborhood. The first enslaved blacks were brought here in 1732 to work tobacco and it became its own town 20 years later. The Pocahontas Island/Richard A. Stewart Museum houses a private collection of African-American artifacts from around the world. Tours by appointment. 224 Witten Street, Petersburg, VA 23803; (804) 861-8889. • Virginia State University The University was founded in 1882 as the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, making it the first fully state-supported, four-year institution of learning for blacks in America. It is designated as one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 1 Hayden Drive, Petersburg, VA 23806; (804) 524-5000; www.vsu. edu. • Pamplin Historical Park Pamplin Historical Park’s acclaimed National Museum of the Civil War Soldier features the stories of 13 soldiers, including black soldier Sgt. Alexander H. Newton of the 29th Connecticut Infantry. The Field Quarter is one of America’s finest slave life exhibits. Reproduction cabins, outbuildings and a garden simulate the meager living conditions of field slaves and their families. A frame cabin houses the thought-provoking video “Slavery In America: Viewpoints of the 1850s” that illustrates some of the common opinions Americans held about slavery. At the Banks House visitors may experience the rare opportunity to view an original slave structure. The kitchen and slave quarter dates to the 1840s and served as a kitchen, laundry and living quarter for house slaves and their families. See page 17 for more information about Pamplin Historical Park. Please see BLACK HISTORY, Page 9

Sunday, February 16, 2014 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA



P.T. TAYLOR Continued from Page 2

He credited the organization with allowing him to get ahead in the Navy at a time when many AfricanAmericans were given service jobs. “In Scouts, I learned semaphore and Morse code,” Taylor said. By the time of his Naval training at Great Lakes, Ill., those skills allowed him to become a Navy signalman. He credited all of his achievements to hard work and the role models he looked up to, including his father. “He was brave,” he said. “As an editor of a black newspaper during the 1930s, you had to be brave.” Taylor added that his CONTRIBUTED PHOTO father had a strong work ethic, one that carried into Porcher Taylor pictured during his U.S. Navy service his own life and work. in World War II.

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MLK, Petersburg had special connection


he Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is as much part of Petersburg as any other historical figure. King had a bond with Petersburg that spanned his most active days as a civil rights leader. He visited Petersburg at least seven times – both as a relatively unknown minister and as a Nobel Peace Prize winning international figure. King’s bond was strong with Petersburg, where he recruited much of his top staff. Some of King’s lieutenants say the national model for the Civil Rights movement was taken from the Petersburg example.“I feel very strongly that Petersburg played an important role in the national struggle,” said the Rev. Milton A. Reid, former pastor at First Baptist Church and a key player of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King spoke at local black churches, ate and slept in the homes of local civil rights activists, and knocked on the doors of citizens in Blandford neighborhood, urging them to vote. He addressed crowds at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University), where he delivered one of his key speeches against war in Vietnam. King visited Dinwiddie County, Prince George County, Chesterfield County, marched through Colonial Heights and ate breakfast in a Hopewell snack bar. King took locals with him to Atlanta and around the world so they would apply what they had accomplished in Petersburg on a bigger level. The Rev. Wyatt T. Walker, pastor at Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg throughout the 1950s, became King’s chief of staff and executive director of the SCLC. “The fact that Dr. King selected me to lead the SCLC is proof that Petersburg played a big role in the civil rights movement,” Walker said. “The SCLC used the local model of the movement that we had in Petersburg and applied it to the entire South. That was a critical strategy.” King is an integral part of Petersburg. The bridge that spans the Appomattox Riv-

er and connects the city with Colonial Heights, bears King’s name. And Petersburg was the first city in Virginia to designate a holiday for King. Yet few today can trace Kings footsteps in Petersburg — where he spoke, what he preached and where he laid his head to rest at night. Even those who were with King during those days have little left but a few fading memories of brief moments they shared with King in the city. It almost seems like Martin Luther King Jr. felt very much at home in the Tri-Cities, and his path on those visits would always lead back to Petersburg. But the city was much more than just a frequent stop on his many travels through the country. In fact, King was so impressed with the success and efficiency of the local civil rights movement, that he recruited its key members for his personal staff. He took them with him to Atlanta and around the world so they would apply what they had accomplished in Petersburg on a much bigger level. The Rev. Wyatt T. Walker, pastor at Gillfield Baptist Church throughout the 1950s, went to become King’s chief of staff and executive director of the SCLC. “The fact that Dr. King selected me to lead the SCLC is proof that Petersburg played a big role in the civil rights movement,” Walker said. “The SCLC used the local model of the movement that we had in Petersburg and applied it to the entire South. That was a critical strategy.”


Shown are historic images of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the book “African Americans of Petersburg” by Amina Luqman-Dawson.

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King’s visit to the region: • October 1956 — King was invited to speak at the 21st Annual Convention of the Virginia State NAACP. At Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, King addressed an audience so big, that many listeners had to assemble in other churches, to which the sound of King’s speech was broadcast. Please see KING, Page 10

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Sunday, February 16, 2014 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA



Petersburg City Public Schools

Celebrating Black History Daily

We’re tapping into talent.

We’re shaping the future. Petersburg High alum, Erika James, made history at the Wayne County Courthouse in Eastern North Carolina. In January 2013, James was sworn in as the first black female to become an 8th Judicial District Court Judge.

Dr. Jewel Hairston is Dean of the School of Agriculture at Virginia State University. She graduated from Petersburg High and holds doctoral and master’s degrees from Virginia Tech. Dr. Hairston provides leadership for more than 120 employees and 24 federal and state grant projects.

We’re educating students.

5th grader, TaAsia Dent, is working toward her goal of “being a fashion designer.”

5th grader, Jordan Beasley, is optimistic about “a better world and a better life for students earning a great education.”

“I want to get all A’s,” said 4th grader, Malachi Branford.

Tremaine Aldon Neverson, a.k.a. Trey Songz, was discovered in a 2000 talent show and signed a contract with Atlantic Records in 2002, the same year he graduated from Petersburg High. His first album, I Gotta Make It, debuted at #20 on the Billboard charts in 2004. His third album, Ready, reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 200 and has since sold over 800,000 copies. The album was nominated for the Best Contemporary R&B Album Grammy. His fourth album, Passion, Pain & Pleasure, was released in 2010 and his fifth, Chapter V, in 2012. As well as multiple BET nominations, Trey Songz has received an American Music Award nomination for Best Soul/R&B Male Artist (2012) and a Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice Music R&B Artist (2013). Actor, Blair Underwood graduated from Petersburg High School. He first appeared on The Cosby Show in 1984 and in the film Krush Groove the following year. He appeared on L.A. Law in 1987 where he remained until 1994. Underwood is the recipient of three NAACP Image Awards. In 2012, he played the lead role of Stanley in the Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. In 2013, Underwood played the role of Robert Ironside in the remake of the successful 1960’s television series, Ironside.

We’re Petersburg City Public Schools (804) 732-0510 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA Sunday, February 16, 2014 PI_PROGINDEX/ADVERTISING/AD_PAGES [M07] | 02/14/14




Continued from Page 3

These photos, as well as artifacts, documents and the oral of histories of Chesterfield County residents who attended black-only public schools during segregation, are displayed in “African American Schools in Chesterfield County During the Segregated Era.” The exhibition opened Saturday at the Chesterfield County Museum and will be on display until May 31. Suggested admission is $2. Cornelia Owens Goode, head of the African-American History Committee, said very little documented information existed about these schools and much of the information was based on the memories of those who attended. Goode said the committee uncovered 35 African-American-only schools; 12 are still standing. There could be more, she said. These 12 schools still standing include Bermuda, Bermuda Hundred, Carver, D. Webster Davis, Dupuy, Hickory Hill, Indian Hill, Matoaca Laboratory, Midlothian, Pleasantview, Port

Walthall and Taylor. A complimentary map detailing the locations of the schools is available at the museum. Six of the 35 schools, which are no l o n g e r s t a n d i n g , we re Ro s e n w a l d schools. I n 1 9 1 2 , B o o k e r T. Wa s h i n g t o n approached philanthropist Julius Rosenwald with the idea to start schools for African-American students in the rural south. As a result of the collaboration, over 5,300 schools, vocational shops and teacher’s homes were built in 15 states in the south and southwest from 1912 to 1932. Goode said the museum worked to show the stark inequalities of the time. “We found that not only did these schools exist, but they were underfunded and black teachers were not paid as much as white teachers,” Goode said. According to data gathered by the African-American History Committee, the average annual salary of a black female elementary school teacher in RACHAEL QUICK/PROGRESS-INDEX PHOTOS Chesterfield from 1930 to 1931 was $476. The average salary of a white female Many artifacts such as this elementery report card are being displayed at the new Black History Month exhibit held at the Chesterfield County Museum, which takes teacher was $856.

a look at segregated schoolhouses that existed throughout Chesterfield County. The exhibit will be open until the end of May.


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Shown are various educational displays about African-American schools in Chesterfield County during the segrgated era. M8

Sunday, February 16, 2014 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA



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Frederick Douglass an inspirational figure in African-American history Influential and inspirational figures abound throughout African-American history. One of the more notable such figures is the abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, who was born into slavery but would grow up to become a noted intellectual and ardent supporter of causes ranging from the abolition of slavery to women’s rights to Irish rule. Born in Talbot County, Maryland around 1818 (the exact year of Douglass’ birth is unknown), Douglass’ mother was a slave and his father likely a white plantation owner. Douglass was separated from his mother at a very young age, a practice that was not uncommon at the time, and sent to live with his maternal grandmother, Betty Bailey. That arrangement did not last long, as Douglass was soon living in the home of a white plantation owner, who may or may not have been Douglass’ father. Douglass eventually found himself living in Baltimore with Hugh and Sophia Auld, the latter of whom would begin to teach the young Frederick Douglass the


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• Petersburg National Battlefield Petersburg National Battlefield offers a free brochure titled, “African-Americans at Petersburg” that highlights the actions of the 850 slaves and free blacks who helped build the Confederate fortifications around Petersburg and the 7,800 U.S. Colored Troops who fought and diedinthecampaign,includingtheBattleof the Crater. Most who died are buried at the Park Service’s Poplar Grove National Cemetery in Dinwiddie County. The National Park Service also conducts periodic guided walking tours of African-American sites. See page 14 for more information about Petersburg National Battlefield. • Petersburg: The Underground Railroad & the Struggle for Freedom There is a brochure and walking tour map which is a guide to discovering 28 sites in Old TownePetersburgtiedtoAfrican-Americanhistory and the Underground Railroad. Among the highlightsistheformerhomeof slaveElizabeth Keckly, who became Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and closest friend. She toured Petersburg withPresidentandMrs.Lincolnjustdaysbefore the President was assassinated in Washington, DC. The brochure and map are available at the Petersburg Visitors Center, 19 Bollingbrook

alphabet, ignoring the ban on teaching slaves. Though Hugh Auld would object to his wife teaching a slave child and demand she stop, the limited exposure to reading and writing had been enough to stir Douglass, who would learn to read and write from white children in the neighborhood and by teaching himself. Once Douglass learned to read, he became an avid reader, reading newspapers and political writings that would help shape his anti-slavery stance in the years to come. In addition, Douglass would use his literacy to help other slaves follow in his footsteps, teaching them to read and write at a weekly church service. In 1833, Douglass was taken from Hugh Auld and returned to work for Thomas Auld, who would send the teenaged Douglass to notorious “slave-breaker” Edward Covey, who routinely and viciously abused Douglass until a physical confrontation between the two would force Covey to stop abusing Douglass

Street, Petersburg, VA 23803; (804) 733-2400; • Hopewell’s African American Tour Guide A brochure highlights African American history sites on a driving tour of Hopewell. The sites include the Skirmish at Baylor’s Farm fought by African-American troops in June 1864, and General Grant’s Headquarters at City Point (page 14), a site that was seized from Confederates by African-American troops on May 5, 1864. The brochure is available at the Hopewell Visitor Center, 4100 Oaklawn Boulevard, Hopewell, VA 23860; (804) 541-2461. • Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail Our nation’s free public education system was established in the Petersburg Area. It was alongthesleepybackroadsof afewruralcountiesthatAfrican-Americans,NativeAmericans and women earned the right to an education that was equal to that of white males. A selfguided driving tour highlights these historically significant sites and tells the poignant and oftenexplosivestoryof civilrightsinAmerican education. Thebrochureandmapareavailable at the Petersburg Visitor Center, 19 Bollingbrook Street, Petersburg, VA 23803; (804) 7332400, and the Hopewell Visitor Center, 4100 Oaklawn Boulevard, Hopewell, VA 23860;(804) 5412461, or downloaded at

once and for all. In 1838, desperate to flee slavey, Douglass finally succeeded in doing so on his third attempt, when he escaped on a train using a false identification with the help of a woman named Anna Murray, who would soon become Douglass’ wife. The couple would eventually settle in Massachusetts, where Douglass would become heavily involved in the abolitionist movement, sharing his story. In 1845, Douglass’ first autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” was published and became a bestseller. The book remains required reading for many of today’s high school students. Though the book was a success, Douglass’ status as a runaway slave still put him in danger of being recaptured, a reality that forced Douglass to depart for Ireland, where he would spend two years speaking of the ills of slavery. Douglass also frequently spoke in England, where a group of his supporters collected funds to purchase his freedom. By 1847, Douglass was a

free man and returned to the United States. Upon his return to the United States, Douglass became even more heavily involved in the abolitionist movement, producing abolitionist newspapers and supporting women’s rights. With the arrival of the Civil War, Douglass had risen to a level of such prominence that he consulted with President Abraham Lincoln, who still did not earn the famed abolitionist’s vote in 1864 election because of Lincoln’s unwillingness to publicly endorse suffrage for freed black men. Following the war, Douglass was appointed to numerous political positions, even becoming the first African-American nominated for the vice presidency of the United States in 1872, though Douglass had no knowledge of the nomination and did not campaign. Douglass would pass away in 1895, leaving behind an enduring legacy that remains one of the more inspiring and influential tales in American history.

Petersburg Public Library System Freedom Riders Tour Sat. Feb 22, 2014. 11 a.m.

Journey with us to visit the historic sites of Petersburg. This a bus tour that will start off at the library and is sure to be something that you do not want to miss. Lunch will be provided and excerpts from the movie wiII be shown. RSVP by Feb. 18th • (804) 733-2387 ext. 29

Slavery by Another Name Panel Discussion

Tues. Feb 25, 2014. 6:00p.m. Union Train Station • 103 River Street View the movie Slavery by Another Name and join in on our discussion of topics that may be considered a modern form of slavery. A light food sampling will be provided.

Come. DiscoverThe Wonder WithinYou. All programs are free and open to the public. • You must rsvp for the Freedom Riders Tour to ensure seating. Visit for more February programs. • For more information call (804) 733-2387 Freedom Riders and Slavery by Another Name programs are made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of the Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Program Sponsors

The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA Sunday, February 16, 2014 PI_PROGINDEX/SPECIAL_SECTION/PAGES [M09] | 02/14/14




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• March 1957 — King makes his first appearance at Virginia State College. He spoke at a forum at Foster Hall and attended a banquet at Jones Hall. Very little else is known of this visit. • 1959 — King spoke at a mass meeting at First Baptist Church in Petersburg. The church has no records of it. But the church’s pastor, the Rev. Milton A. Reid, remembers the visit, because it was the first time he met King. • July 1960 — King came to Petersburg to recruit members for his executive staff. King announced at Gillfield Baptist Church that the pastor, the Rev.Wyatt T. Walker, would follow him to Atlanta. Dorothy Cotton came along as well, leaving behind her husband. She would eventually join King on his trip to Oslo, Norway, where he received the Nobel Peace Prize. • March 1962 — King decided to come to Petersburg for three days to encourage people to vote. King knocked on doors in the Blandford neighborhood. The next day King and his entourage traveled to Dinwiddie, Prince George and Chesterfield counties. King and his delegation also marched through Colonial Heights. Later that day, King made his second appearance at Virginia State College. On the third day of the visit, King came to Hopewell for the first and only tim. His friend, the Rev. Curtis Harris, was to be tried at Hopewell Circuit Court for a contempt charge that had grown out of his refusal to answer questions to a legislative committee. • July 1965 — When King spoke at Roger’s Stadium on campus of Virginia State ColCONTRIBUTED PHOTO lege, he shocked many in his movement. The previous year, he had received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preaches in Petersburg in this photo from the collection of The Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker and Nobel Peace Prize, and now he openly Theresa Walker. attacked U.S. policy in Vietnam for the first time. “We aren’t going to defeat Communism with guns, bombs and gases, but rather by making democracy work and showing it to the world,” King said. • June 1967 — King came by invitation of the Hopewell Improvement Foundation, which was hosting a testimonial banquet to Coming to Petersburg this spring! honor its founder, the Rev. Curtis Harris, for 1st Workout is FREE. Follow us his “outstanding work for the civil rights on Twitter and Facebook. movement,” according to a press release. • Our circuit format allows new sessions to begin King, in a 45—minute speech at Jones Hall every 3 minutes-- so you don’t miss any class times! • Fast and fun work-outs that change every day and at Virginia State College, spoke against the last only 30 minutes! war in Vietnam and the struggles at home. • 9 different exercise stations that work every muscle in the body! • Get a trainer every time, giving YOU personal attention, He addressed racial injustice, “which is still at no extra charge! the black man’s burden and America’s shame. M10

Sunday, February 16, 2014 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA



Petersburg African-American Pioneers Joseph B. Jefferson A graduate of Peabody High School, Joseph B. Jefferson was an R&B writer for Philadelphia International Records and BMI. He started his career as a musician with The Manhattans, but he wanted to write music, a desire that was eventually realized. His best known songs were made popular by The Spinners and O’Jays (Mighty Love, Part 1; One of a Kind Love Affair, They Just Can’t Stop It, The Games People Play, and Brandy). The Spinners performed many of Jefferson’s songs including, Love Don’t Love Nobody, later released by Luther Vandross. Jealousy, performed by former Delphonics member Major Harris, was a hit for Dionne Warwick. Jefferson’s Aiming at Your Heart was performed by The Temptations. Mr. Jefferson is the CEO for JBJ Entertainment and founder and President of the Play 4 Me Foundation in Philadelphia.

Tremaine Aldon Neverson a.k.a. Trey Songz Trey was discovered in a 2000 talent show and signed a contract with Atlantic Records in 2002, the same year he graduated from Petersburg High. His first album, I Gotta Make It, debuted at #20 on the Billboard charts in 2004. His second album, Trey Day, reached #11 on the Billboard charts and his single Can’t Help But Wait was featured in the movie Step Up 2 the Streets and rose to #2 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart. The song won him a Grammy nod for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. He also received a BET nomination for Best Male R&B Artist, an award he took home the following year. His third album, Ready, reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 200 and has since sold over 800,000 copies. The third single from that album, I Invented Sex, reached #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart. The album was nominated for the Best Contemporary R&B Album Grammy. His fourth album, Passion, Pain & Pleasure, was released in 2010 and his fifth, Chapter V, in 2012. As well as multiple BET nominations, he has received an American Music Award nomination for Best Soul/R&B Male Artist (2012) and a Teen Choice Award nomination for Choice Music R&B Artist (2013).

Blair Underwood Blair Underwood was born in Tacoma, Washington, but, being a military brat, moved around a great deal, eventually spending his teen years in Petersburg, graduating from Petersburg High before moving on to the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in Pitts-

burgh. He first appeared on The Cosby Show in 1984 and in the film Krush Groove the following year. After a short time with the soap opera, One Life To Live, he moved on to L.A. Law in 1987 where he remained until 1994, receiving a Golden Globe nomination. While Blair is best known for his television roles, he has also performed stage work. He is the recipient of three NAACP Image Awards: Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series (City of Angels); Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Rules of Engagement); Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini-Series or Dramatic Special (Mama Flora’s Family). He also won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album (An Inconvenient Truth) in 2009. Additionally, he is the co-author with Steven Barnes of a series of mystery novels.

swept the Los Angeles Lakers, who had defeated the 76s in the finals the year before. The 76ers coach, Billy Cunningham, said: “Let’s not make believe. The difference from last year was Moses.” He was named NBA MVP in 1979, 1982 and 1983 as well as NBA Finals MVP in 1983. He appeared in twelve All Star Games in a row beginning in 1978. That same year, he set an NBA record for offensive rebounds, a record he broke himself two years later. When he retired in 1995, he had scored 27,409 and claimed 16,212. With 8531 free throws, he was number one at the time of his retirement and was ranked second only to Wilt Chamberlain in free throw attempts. He holds the NBA record for most consecutive games played without fouling out.

Joseph Jenkins Roberts (1809-1876)

Afemo Omilami

Joseph Jenkins Roberts was born in Norfolk, but his family moved to Petersburg when he was young. His mother successfully freed herself and married a free man who started a boating business on the river, transporting goods from Petersburg to Norfolk and back. As well as learning this trade, young Roberts was a barber apprentice, a well-paying and respected option for African-Americans of that time. Additionally, William N. Colson, the barbershop owner, allowed him access to his private library. In 1829, the Roberts family immigrated to Liberia in Africa, motivated by a desire for greater freedom and also, as members of Union Street Methodist Church, the call to spread the gospel as missionaries in the newly created colony. Roberts and Colson formed a transatlantic trading company, shipping goods between Petersburg and Liberia. Roberts was governor of Liberia colony from 1842-1848. He worked to establish Liberia as an independent nation, and was elected as the country’s first president in 1848. He served as president until 1855 and again from 1871-1876. Roberts died in 1876. The city of Robertsport in Liberia is named for him and his birthday is a celebrated as a Liberian national holiday.

Moses Malone At 6’10”, 230 lbs., Moses Malone graduated from Petersburg High and went straight to pro-basketball. He was drafted by the Utah Stars (ABA) in 1974. He was a professional basketball star for 21 years. In 1976, he moved to the NBA. Five years later he went to the NBA finals with the Houston Rockets. Malone was later part of the 1983 NBA Championship Philadelphia 76ers. His 1983 NBA finals victory was with the 76ers. The Philadelphia team

Afemo Omilami has had an extensive career in film. He has had roles in several made-for-TV movies and TV series, including In the Heat of the Night and the Ghost Whisperer. His list of credits also include many hit movies: Murder in Mississippi, Forrest Gump, Remember the Titans, Sweet Home Alabama, Madea’s Family Reunion, Idlewild, The Blind Side, Steel Magnolias, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Rick Smith Rick Smith is the General Manager for the Houston Texans. He was born in Petersburg and moved to Dayton, Ohio, where he graduated from high school, before going on to be a safety and defensive captain with Purdue University. He graduated from Purdue in 1992, and, after a season as a graduate assistant with the Boilermakers, was hired as secondary coach, the youngest full time coach in the Big Ten at the time. After two years, he went on to join the coaching staff of the Denver Broncos, where he spent four years as assistant defensive backs coach. The team won two Super Bowls and, from 1996 to 1998, more games than any other in the NFL. Smith left the locker room for the front office to become the head of the pro-personnel department. His role there was to evaluate players throughout the NFL, to make draft decisions and to negotiate contracts. He stayed with Denver until 2006, when he accepted the general manager position with the Texans. While with the Texans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed Smith to the Competition Committee. Smith was also appointed as an original member of the General Managers Advisory Committee. In 2008, he received the peer-

granted Tank Younger Award for outstanding work in an NFL front office.

Mark West

Mark West was raised in Petersburg, graduating from Petersburg High School before moving on to Old Dominion University. West was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1983 NBA draft -- 2nd round, 30th overall pick. His career spanned 17 seasons. He was with Dallas only one year, followed by a year with the Milwaukee Bucks, five seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, eight seasons with the Phoenix Suns, two seasons the Detroit Pistons and then a season each with the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks. He made the NBA leaderboards from 1987 to 1991. During the 1989-1990 season with Phoenix, he was ranked number 1 in Field Goal Percent and number two in True Shooting Percent, right behind Charles Barkley. He currently ranks third in NBA history in field goal percentage, behind only Shaquille O’Neal and Artis Gilmore. He ranks 40th on the NBA chart of Career Leaders and Records for Blocks. After retiring from the court, he took a position in the Phoenix front office. He is currently the Vice President of Player Programs and the team liaison with the NBA Player Development Program.

Marva Hicks

Marva Hicks is an actress and Petersburg native. She started her acting career on One Life To Live. She has obtained roles in many television shows, including several parts in the series Sister, Sister, and recurring parts in L.A. Law and Star Trek: Voyager. She appeared in the film Asunder, directed by Tim Reid, and starring Blair Underwood.

Kendall Langford

Kendall Langford was born and raised in Petersburg. He played football for Petersburg High School, where he earned FirstTeam All-District honors as a junior and First-Team All-District, Second-Team AllMetro and Second-Team All-Region honors. Langford played college football at Hampton University, where he earned first-team AllMiddle Eastern Athletic Conference honors for two consecutive years. During his senior season at Hampton, Langford led the team with 72 tackles -- 32 solo -- on his way to his third straight first-team All-MEAC selection. He played in the East-West Shrine Game and the 2008 Senior Bowl. Langford was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 2008. Today he is a defensive tackle for the St. Louis Rams. - Source: City of Petersburg

The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA Sunday, February 16, 2014 PI_PROGINDEX/SPECIAL_SECTION/PAGES [M11] | 02/14/14



From film, food, folklore and music, the City of Petersburg invites you to join us as we commemorate the rich African American experience within our city through history, heritage and culture the entire month of February. We have listed a number of programs and activities for your enjoyment and we encourage you to participate in these mostly FREE events. As an added bonus for attending the Union Train Station events listed below, you will receive a coupon to dine within one of our wonderful restaurants. We hope to see you there!



1 p.m. – Good Shepherd Baptist Church,

3 p.m. – New Millennium Studios, 1 New Millennium Dr. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 youth under 16 years of age Film: “Troop 491: The Adventures of the Muddy Lions” This screening is being sponsored by Ann and Porsher Taylor This emotional coming of age tale tests a youth’s judgment as he determines to explore the code of the streets, or that of his fellow scouts. Proceeds for this event will benefit the Legacy Media Institute. (This film is best suited for adults and children over 12.) Tickets can be purchased from the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce or at the door the day of the showing.

2223 South Crater Rd. PETERSBURG TRIAD MEETING: Celebrating African American Heritage 7 p.m. – Union Train Station, 103 River St. Performance: James Saxsmo Gates Jazz Trio

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 21 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. – leaving from Walmart Parking Lot, 3500 South Crater Rd. TOUR: Petersburg’s African American History (To reserve your seats call the Petersburg Sheriff’s Office at 804-733-2369)

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22 11 a.m. – William R. McKenney Branch Library, 137 South Sycamore St. TOUR:

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25 6 p.m. – Union Train Station, 103 River St. PANEL DISCUSSION: “Slavery By Another Name”. The Petersburg Public Library is also sponsoring an essay contest “What Does It Mean To Be A Modern Day Slave”. For more information, visit the website at


“Get on the Bus/Freedom Riders Tour”

7 p.m. – Union Train Station, 103 River St. PERFORMANCE: The Petersburg Symphony, Ulysses Kirksey, conductor

Lunch provided and excerpts from the movie will be shown. RSVP by February 18 at 804-733-2387 ext. 29.


Sunday, February 16, 2014 The Progress-Index, Petersburg, VA



This information was compiled by the City of Petersburg Department of Cultural Affairs. For more information regarding these events, please call 804-733-2430. SPECIAL THANKS: The City of Petersburg leadership and the Black History Month committee, Virginia State University, area restaurants that participated in discounted dining, National Endowment for the Humanities for sponsoring the Petersburg Public Library events that include Donna Washington, interracial panel discussion, bus tour and a panel discussion on “Slavery By Another Name”.

Black History 14  
Black History 14  

Celebrating Black History 2014