African American/Black Heritage

Henrico Celebrates February as Black History Month

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.

Black History Resources

Henrico County Black Heritage Stories

Exploring Black and American Heritage

Telling All Americans’ Stories: African American Heritage

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Henrico County Public Library Celebrates Black History Month 2024

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The library will host a full line-up of programs for Black History Month. Whether you watch a performance, attend a lecture, view a film, or participate in a book discussion, we hope you will visit the library over the coming weeks to learn with us about Black history and culture! Read on for a full list of upcoming events and recommended reads from our collection.

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For more programs pick up a Program Guide or visit our online calendar. 

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Come out and celebrate Black History Month with Henrico Recreation & Parks

Sat., Feb. 24, 2-3 p.m. Meadow Farm – The Art & Lives of Leslie Bolling & George H. Ben Johnson  Ages 10+. Join us as we take a look into the lives and careers of two black Virginians who expressed themselves through their self-taught artistic mediums. Despite gaining acclaim in the early to mid 20th century art world and having pieces in prestigious institutions and private collections all over the world, these two men remain relatively obscure in their hometown.

We invite you to come learn more about Leslie Garland Bolling and George H. Ben Johnson and how their works not only reflected the daily life of African Americans living in the Jim Crow South but challenged the system that was pitted against them. Information: [email protected]  

Bhm The Photograph Feb. 28 10 A.m

Black History Month Movies at Henrico Theatre

Catch up on classics, favorites and the films you missed at Henrico Theatre where tickets and concessions are $1 each! Follow Henrico Theatre on Facebook at henricotheatre.

Catch “The Photograph” at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services

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Juneteenth celebrates enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation reaching the westernmost Confederate state of Texas. The Proclamation went into effect in 1863, but this news was purposefully withheld from enslaved people until the arrival of Union troops in Galveston Bay, Texas on June 19, 1865. Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day.

Juneteenth Celebrations

Save the Date! Saturday, June 15, 2024 at Dorey Park
Join Henrico Recreation & Parks for a vendor fair, kids zone, food trucks, and entertainment. FREE and open to the public! Additional details will be provided closer to the event. If you have any questions, please call (804) 652-1421 or email [email protected].

Henrico County Juneteenth 2022 Events

Juneteenth Engagement | Resources

Juneteenth 2022 | The Black Village of RVA LLC.


Juneteenth – HISTORY

Juneteenth Jamboree | Juneteenth Jamboree: From a Free Place to Displace | Season 2021 | Episode 1 | PBS

Juneteenth | National Museum of African American History and Culture (


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

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

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HCPL Black Authors -Noteworthy Awards Bookmark
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HCPL Black Authors – Recent Award Winners Bookmark

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Black History Month

Richmond’s First Baptist Church and Arrabon are hosting their annual Citywide Book Read again this year.  This year’s book is The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, written as a letter to his nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  And because it’s a short book, they are recommending a second short book, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, written as a letter to his son. Baldwin’s book is a classic of African American literature. Coates’s book was the winner of the National Book Award. Read the books during Black History Month (February) and then join  a discussion in the fellowship hall of Richmond’s First Baptist Church on Monday, March 4, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. The discussion is free and open to the public. No reservation required. 

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

Henrico County Historical Markers and Tabletops

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Virginia Department of Historic Resources Highway Markers

Henrico County Black History Month Playlist

Experience the purpose-filled lives of Blacks in Henrico County through the lens of family and historians who walk you back in time to witness their dedication to freedoms and contributions in this 13-video Black History Month series.

Community + People

Black History Month Promo: Hometown Hero Arthur Ashe, Jr.

Arthur Ashe, Jr. made his mark as a worldwide tennis champion and advocate for education. Throughout his life, Ashe worked to eliminate racism and poverty around the world. The hometown hero died in 1993 from AIDS-related pneumonia as the result of a blood transfusion. Ashe’s legacy and his ties to Central Virginia are cemented in the Henrico County public school that bears his name, Arthur Ashe, Jr. Elementary. “Hometown Hero” is one of a dozen stories in our #BlackHistoryMonth YouTube playlist.

Tommy Edwards: Henrico’s Hit Maker

Singer-songwriter Tommy Edwards crooned his way to the top of the charts in the 1950s, selling millions of records in the U.S. and around the world. The Henrico native appeared on the programs of entertainment icons Ed Sullivan and Dick Clark, and headlined shows in major cities. But fame would prove to be fleeting for Henrico’s biggest star, who found his career peaking at the same time American popular music was dramatically changing. “Tommy Edwards” was produced by HCTV in 2018.

Virginia Estelle Randolph: Pioneer Educator

Virginia Estelle Randolph was a pioneer educator in Henrico County during the 19th and 20th centuries. Her innovative ideas and vocational curriculum termed “The Henrico Plan” was adopted throughout the south and internationally. Randolph made remarkable strides in African-American education during an unsettled time in our history. Watch “Virginia Estelle Randolph: Pioneer Educator.”

Woodland Cemetery – Second Largest Cemetery for Blacks in the Richmond Area

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Preserving the history of Woodland Cemetery

For the past three years, the nonprofit Woodland Restoration Foundation has worked to restore dignity to Woodland Cemetery, one of the area’s oldest African American cemeteries and the resting place for about 30,000 community members. Volunteers have removed acres of overgrown grass and brush to uncover 5,000 headstones. As they’re rediscovered, the markers are photographed, cleaned and assigned GPS coordinates, which are then published to to support genealogical research throughout the world. “It’s been extremely successful, not only with the work of the dedicated volunteers, but also with the help of Henrico County,” said Benjamin Ross, a historian for Sixth Mount Zion Church.

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The Woodland Restoration Foundation was formed in 2020 by local businessman Marvin Harris, who had been involved with efforts to restore nearby Historic Evergreen Cemetery. The Foundation raised the funds needed to acquire the cemetery, and is now working to raise more funding to complete the restoration process. The Foundation works with community volunteers, local businesses, and supporters from across the country to meets its goals.  Woodland Restoration Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

[Mission:] Woodland Restoration Foundation was formed to maintain, preserve and educate the community about one of the city’s oldest African American cemeteries. Woodland is located in Henrico County, Virginia and is the final resting place of approximately 30,000 African Americans.
The Woodland Cemetery community-led volunteer organization facilitates the revitalization efforts, returning dignity to this historic location dating back to 1917.  The Woodland Restoration foundation will grow the mission of the cemetery while respecting the original design of the property.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Arthur Ashe
Civil rights activist and tennis legend,
nterred at Woodland Cemetery

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Henrico County Police Division – Intercultural Liaison Partnership

The Henrico Police Intercultural Liaison Partnership (ILP) is designed to strengthen relationships between police and Henrico County’s culturally-diverse communities. Our goal is to build trust within these communities by learning from one another and breaking down barriers. We want to ensure every member of every community knows Henrico Police is here to support them and promote their safety.

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Matthew James Robinson, Sr. – Robinson Park

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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