Bill Would Inventory the History of Formerly Enslaved African Americans in Virginia 

click to enlarge The Emancipation Oak on the campus of Hampton University is a sprawling Live Oak tree that, according to local history, is where slaves gathered to hear the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Bill Tiernan

The Emancipation Oak on the campus of Hampton University is a sprawling Live Oak tree that, according to local history, is where slaves gathered to hear the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Virginia has plenty of history: Jamestown, a plethora of Founding Fathers, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and more.

But Del. Delores McQuinn, D-Richmond, thinks there’s history that’s gone unnoticed: the contributions of post-slavery African Americans in Virginia.

A bill to research, inventory and highlight important people, places, things and contributions of those citizens will hit the state Senate floor this week after passing the Finance Committee on Wednesday.

The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities would be in charge of the project in hopes of preserving the history for educational and cultural purposes, the bill states.

The foundation would develop a register of historical sites significant to African American history in Virginia and recommend options for preservation and ways to increase tourism.

McQuinn said a lot of people made tremendous contributions to the state and that history deserves to be preserved.

The bill establishes a 12-member task force of legislators and staff to help the foundation.

It carries an annual $7,320 cost for expenses. Although the fiscal impact is relatively small, few bills asking for money have passed in a tight budget year.

There are several tourism and history groups that curate African American history sites in Virginia, but none specifically on this era.


This story originally appeared on PilotOnline.com.

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