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Richmond: Our Tour Guide
Famous Richmonders: A cast of Characters - Who's-who among Richmond.

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson - (1878 1949) Was a pioneer and pre-eminent African-American tap dance performer. In Robinson's day, tap dancing was primarily a flat footed dance referred to as the "buck and wing" style. Robinson transformed the art by doing his dancing on the balls of the feet, becoming best known for his famous "stair dance." A Broadway producer hired him for a revue called "Blackbirds of 1928." The all-white audiences loved the show and the then 50-year-old Robinson soon became much in demand, said to be the highest paid black performer of the time.

Oliver Hill - (1907-) - Civil-rights lawyer, city councilman in the 1940's. Noted for aiding Thurgood Marshall in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in the U.S. Supreme Court. He later worked for JFK. Hill won a critical case in 1940 ordering equal pay for black and white teachers. Alston v. School Board of Norfolk, Va. He was the first African American on the City Council of Richmond, Virginia, a position he took in 1949. On August 11, 1999, President William J. Clinton, awarded Hill the highest honor the nation can bestow, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Admiral Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr. - (1922- 2004), Was an African-American Navy pioneer and a native of Richmond, Virginia. After two years at Virginia Union University, he enlisted in the Naval Reserves. Gravely successfully completed midshipman training, thereby becoming the first African American commissioned as an officer from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Course. He began his seagoing career as a sailor aboard the USS PC-1264, a submarine chaser that was one of only two World War II ships with a largely African-American crew. He was also among the first African-Americans to attend the Naval War College in 1962. He became the first African-American to command a U.S. Navy warship (USS Theodore E. Chandler), the first African-American to command an American warship under combat conditions (USS Taussig), the first African-American to command a major naval warship (USS Jouett), the first African-American admiral, the first African-American to rise to the rank of Vice Admiral, and the first African-American to command a U.S. Fleet (Commander, US 3rd Fleet). Admiral Gravely was also highly decorated, with decorations including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Navy Commendation Medal.

J.Sargeant Reynolds - (1936 -1971) Julian Sergeant Reynolds, was born into the family which founded Reynolds Metals Company, was a teacher, businessman, and politician. He served in both the House and Senate of the Virginia General Assembly and served as Lieutenant Governor of the of Virginia. He is best remembered for advocating Virginia's Community College System. Reynolds had worked especially hard to promote racial equality and public education throughout the state.

Warren Beatty - (1937-) Born March 30th in Richmond VA. American actor, producer, screenwriter, and director. He long had a reputation as a womanizer and playboy, but this reputation has faded since his 1992 marriage. The Academy Awards honored him with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 2000, presented by his close friend Jack Nicholson, while in 2004 he received Kennedy Center Honor.

Arthur Ashe - (1943-1993) - African-American tennis legend, writer, humanitarian and scholar (winner of Wimbledon & U.S. Open, this tennis legend was ranked number one (1) in the world twice.) Ashe was the first African American ever selected to the United States Davis Cup team. After his retirement, Ashe took on many new tasks, from writing for Time magazine to commentating for ABC Sports, from founding the National Junior Tennis League to serving as captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team. In 1983, Ashe underwent a second heart surgery. He was, to no one's surprise, elected to the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.Later in life contracted HIV (AIDS) from surgery, died in 1993 at a young age of 43. He became the first man to lie-in-state at the Virginia Capital since Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson. His statue graces the cities monument avenue along with Confederate veterans, the monument opened in 1996 drew thousands in attendance. The main stadium at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Park, where the U.S. Open is played, is named Arthur Ashe Stadium in honor of Ashe. Ashe is soon to be honored on a U.S. Postage stamp (2005).

L. Douglas Wilder - (1931-) - Richmond native, Korean War hero, state senator who became the nation's first elected black governor in 1989. In recognition of his landmark achievement, the NAACP awarded Wilder the Spingarn Medal for 1990. Since his tenure as governor, Wilder has declared himself an independent. Toyed with running for president unsuccessfully and later became Richmond's first elected mayor in decades (Jan. 2005). Only days into the job he cleans out the Richmond government, cures social ills and brings dignity to the title mayor of Richmond. Now that's progress!

Jim Ukrop - Wealthy, charitable, multimillionaire grocer behind the Super Market chain Ukrop's. His minions include almost every elected city official short of Doug Wilder. The mastermind city meal taxes, nightclub laws and ballpark megaplex. Jim Ukrop currently serves on more than 10 community boards and is the Founding Chairman of the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation.

Michael D'Angelo Archer - (1974-) is an African-American soul singer, professionally known as simply D'Angelo. He recorded his debut album, Brown Sugar (album), in 1995. D'Angelo has a son with fellow neo-soul singer Angie Stone. In 2002, Q magazine named him in their list of the "50 Bands To See Before You Die".

Chief Powhatan - (1547-1618) - Original owner of Richmond. First documented government for Richmond was under his rule. Records have shown that he ruled the tribes in 8,000 square miles of country, with 8,000 subjects, of whom about 2,400 were fighting men. Without written laws, or agreements, this mighty "savage" leader ruled with wisdom and foresight beyond his time. The European settlers told Chief Powhatan that the big wooden cross they erected was to symbolize their friendship. I wonder what he say about how that worked out if he where alive today. Powhatan was the father of Pochantas, originally born Matoaka and nicknamed Pocahontas (wonton one). Legend has it that she begged her father to save Capt. John Smith, she was of course repaid by a kidnapping from the English. She settled down in the City of Henricus, a part of modern day Chesterfield County. Pocahontas later converted to Christianity and learned English, married tobacco tycoon Non Rolfe in 1614, she died shortly after visiting England at the age of 22.

Capt. Christopher Newport - (1560 -1617) - English privateer and navigator who transported colonists to the first permanent English colony in America, Jamestown, and sailed back and forth from England to the New World five times between 1606 and 1611, transporting both supplies and colonists. The salty seadog who planted the wooden cross mentioned above, who also planted the false hop e of friendship to the Powhatan Tribe. He claimed Richmond for the crown and founded the second settlement Henricus, home of the first American hospital and collage.

William Byrd II - (1674-1744)- Virginia diarist and government official, the "Founder" of Richmond. He donated 50 acres of land to create a town at the falls of the James River. He opposed the founding of a city. Seems that his gift of 50 acres didn't get him anywhere and his protesting was circumvented, the found of the city happened.

Patrick Henry - (1736-1799) - "Radical," is a title that few men can wear with ease, but this famous orator is synonymous with that word, known for "give me liberty or give me death" speech in 1775 at St. John's Episcopal Church on Broad Street, in the Church Hill district. In 1776, he was the first elected governor of Virginia. He was re-elected for three terms and then succeeded by Thomas Jefferson. He was again elected to the office in 1784. Patrick Henry was a strong critic of the constitution proposed in 1787. He was in favor of the strongest possible government for the individual states, and a weak federal government.

John Marshall - (1755-1835) - Chief Justice under Thomas Jefferson, a Richmond native now lends his name to a high school, hotel and street. (buried in Hollywood Cemetery) Marshall made his greatest contributions to the development of American government. In a series of historic decisions, he established the judiciary as an independent and influential branch of the government equal to Congress and the Presidency. For practical purposes, the Constitution in its most important aspects today is the Constitution as John Marshall interpreted it. Marshall served as Chief Justice through five presidential administrations, having served as Chief Justice for nearly 35 years. This makes Marshall the longest-serving Chief Justice of the United States in history. John Marshall Museum - Officer in the Revolution; Virginia Legislature; Virginia Ratification Convention; XYZ Mission to France, 1797; Congressman, 1799-1800; Secretary of State, 1800-1801; sworn in as Chief Justice of the United States, February 4, 1801; died in office, July 6, 1835.

Jefferson Davis - (1808 - 1889) - Was first a Senator from Mississippi and Secretary of War, before becoming President of the Confederate States of America. Was defeated in war by honest Abe Lincoln who upon his historic visit to the ransacked Richmond aka capital of the Confederacy, planted his butt in Davis' chair for photo opportunities and media.

Abraham Lincoln - (1861-1865) - U.S. President who visits the nearly burned to the ground Richmond city during the Civil-war. He was killed less then two weeks after his visit to Richmond, not many tears where shed in Richmond then. I guess he never got to see how the play ends.

Maggie L. Walker - (1867-1934) - American teacher, businesswoman, and the first African-American woman or female bank president. She formed the St. Luke's Penny Savings bank in 1903. Her mother was a former slave and assistant cook in the Church Hill mansion of Elizabeth Van Lew. The house her family occupied from 1904 to 1934 is now Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site. As a leader her successes and vision offered tangible improvements in the way of life for African-Americans and women. Disabled by paralysis and limited to a wheelchair later in life, she also became an example for persons with disabilities. Richmond Public Schools built a large brick high school adjacent to Virginia Union University nearby, and named it in her honor. After generations of students spent their high school years there, it was totally refurbished in the late 20th century to become the regional Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies.

Edgar Allan Poe - (1809 - 1849) - Author, poet, short story writer, editor and critic. One of the leaders of the American Romantics and married his cousin. He is best known for his tales of the macabre and his poems, as well as being one of the early practitioners of the short story and progenitors of Gothic fiction in the United States. Poe died at the age of 40 and the cause of his death is still disputed, but wrote and published many works during his life. t Famous for the "Raven" (the name of the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team) among other works, operated a magazine office downtown. The oldest house in Richmond, built in 1737, houses the Poe museum.

Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow - (1873 - 1945) was an American novelist from Richmond, Virginia. Beginning in 1897, Glasgow wrote 20 novels, mainly about life in Virginia. Her own education had been rudimentary, a fact Glasgow compensated by reading.
 

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July 26, 2012 08:41 PM

 
 

 

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