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Civil rights hero. Oliver Hill served as lead attorney for the Virginia chapter of the NAACP. He and his colleagues filed more legal challenges to segregation than any other lawyers in the South, but it was Hill who stood out. "Gentlemen, face the dawn and not the setting sun," he told a group of officials resisting desegregation. "A new day is being born." (Image courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.)
A first-class escape. In 1849, Henry Brown, an enslaved man living in Richmond, arranged to have himself boxed up and shipped to Pennsylvania—and freedom. Our entry details his transformation into Henry Box Brown and his legacy as a symbol of the Underground Railroad. Especially interesting are his travels through England. (Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.)
Madame President. Maggie Lena Walker, daughter of a former slave, became the first woman—white or black—to establish and become president of a bank in the United States. She led the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond, a role that allowed her to serve as a role model for both African Americans and women in Virginia. (Image courtesy of the National Park Service.)
In defense of their freedom. At least 5,723 men enlisted from Virginia in the Union army, although the actual number is probably much larger. They served in the United States Colored Troops, battling their own officers for respectful treatment and the enemy for their freedom. Five black Virginians even earned the Medal of Honor. (Image courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society.)