African American/Black Heritage

Heritage and Resources

Venture into the quilted and ever-expanding Black heritage journey with an abundance of resources for all ages. From art and music to strength and life, these resources are available to unlock your learning, curiosity and joy.

Henrico County Black Heritage Stories

Exploring Black and American Heritage

Telling All Americans’ Stories: African American Heritage

Explore Henrico

Opened to the public in 1981, Meadow Farm Museum at Crump Park presents programs, events, and exhibits on the cultures which have influenced the history of Henrico County, Virginia. Historical interpreters provide insight into the lives of the Native Americans, African Americans, and several generations of the Shepperd family who have called the lands of Meadow Farm home. On selected weekends, focused history programs are offered for various ages. Read more

Woodland Cemetery

Henrico County Historical Markers and Tabletops

Virginia Department of Historic Resources Highway Markers

History

Did you know?

As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort. Read more at blackhistorymonth.gov.

Celebration

February is Black History Month

Black History Resources

Henrico County Public Library Reading Black Author book marks give readers a way to Celebrate Black History Month and heritage through realistic and fantastical fiction.

HCPL Reading Black Authors Fantastical Fiction Book Mark
HCPL Reading Black Authors Realistic Fiction Book Mark


People

Henrico County Police Division

Robinson Park acquired its name from Matthew James Robinson Sr. (1898-1979) a retired teacher with Henrico County Schools and the former chairman of the Imperial Broom Company. Robinson was born in West Point in King William County, Virginia. He was raised in Richmond where his family moved during his infancy. According to family oral history, Robinson was inspired by his paternal grandfather, George Benjamin Robinson, who had learned the art of broom making and had attained an education after the Civil War.

Matthew began working in the broom factory with his father when he was about 12 years old. Robinson Sr. took over the operation of the broom company in 1938, while his father retained the title of chairman until his death.

Matthew Robinson, Sr. graduated from Van de Vyver School in Richmond, an African American Catholic school.  At the beginning of the 20th century, private schools like Van de Vyver provided elementary and secondary education to African American children as public-school options were limited. It is estimated that two-thirds of black children did not attend elementary school during this time because there were not enough school buildings or black teachers to sustain a black public education system.  The school closed in 1969 as enrollment had fallen and the desire by the church to promote integration. 

After high school, Mr. Robinson was a graduate of Hamilton Law School in Chicago and did graduate study a Virginia State College, Hampton Institute and West Virginia State College. He also earned a certificate in industrial arts instruction and a certificate from the Washington School of Real Estate and Insurance. In 1918, Robinson married Carrie Miller and they raised three children. 

After a fire at his small plant in 1938, he started teaching to support his family but continued to make brooms on weekends. He began teaching shop at Fair Oaks Elementary School and taught at Gravel Hill Elementary School. Robinson also operated a school bus that served the children of the County’s Fairfield and Varina districts. In 1941, he took the job as industrial arts teacher at Virginia Randolph High School. He also worked with Virginia Randolph in securing the land for the High School. He retired from teaching in 1964.  

In 1945, Matthew Sr. and his son incorporated the Imperial Broom Co. They built a modern plant at 214 N. 21st St. and moved there in 1979.  Originally using natural fiber to make his brooms, Mr. Robinson later switched to synthetic fiber brooms as the market for natural fiber declined.  He expanded the business to sell additional items, including mops, janitorial supplies and, eventually, African wedding brooms (a little 4-foot-high model). The wedding brooms became so popular that they came to the attention of Martha Stewart, who included one in an edition of her wedding magazine. 

 
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