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Unsung Heroes of Black History Month

St. Luke Savings Bank
Maggie Lena Walker (Richmond, VA) became the first African American female bank president in the United States when she founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in 1903. (Image: PBS)

During Black History Month (2021), we launched a Social Media Campaign entitled 28 Days of Black History, which consisted of 28 Unsung Black Heroes. Each day of February, one hero was shared via a Photo Post to VPM’s Facebook. Each post had an average People Reach of approximately 3,000, and also received an average of 130 Engagements per post. VPM Digital Producer, Victoria York designed all 28 graphics, and worked with Historical Consultant Elvatrice Belsches to provide accurate resources about unsung Black heroes, both local and national. This campaign was featured in  Richmond Family Magazine and through out Richmond Public Schools. Special thanks to VPM Early Education Manager, Karen Wells for her work in collaborating with additional school districts and bringing this campaign to Virtual Classrooms all over Virginia, during COVID-19. Be sure to check out excellence for more content to educate, entertain, and inspire through the lens of Black excellence.


February 28

Image(s) Courtesy: Encyclopedia Virginia | Library of Congress

February 27

Image Courtesy: Library of Virginia

February 26

Image Courtesy: Dr. William Ferguson Reid, Sr.

February 25

Image Courtesy: Marine Biological Laboratory Archives

February 24

Image Courtesy: Library of Congress

February 23

Image(s) Courtesy: Medical College of Virginia Foundation, Inc. ( | Ed Uthman - Flickr Stock

February 22

Image(s) Courtesy: Library of Virginia | Virginia Department of Historic Resources

February 21

Image Courtesy: Library of Virginia

February 20

Image Courtesy: Library of Virginia | Library of Congress

February 19

Image Courtesy:  V.2015.75.03. Willie Jones Dell. Circa 1978. Credit: The Valentine

February 18

Image Courtesy: Encyclopedia Virginia | Virginia Dept. of Historical Resources


February 17

Image Courtesy: National Archives Catalog

February 16

Image Courtesy: University of Virginia Special Collections | VCU Library

February 15

Image Courtesy: Detroit Public Library | Digital Collections

February 14

Image Courtesy:

February 13

Image Courtesy: There are no accurate photographs of Mary Bowser. This illustration of Mary Bowser was published on in an article by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

February 12

Image Courtesy: Scurlock Photographic Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History (Encyclopedia Virginia)

February 11

Image Courtesy: PBS Learning Media ​​​​​

February 10

Image Courtesy: Oliver White Hill Family (Library of Virginia)

February 9

Image Courtesy: Lacks Family and reprinted from the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (New York: The Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., 2010)

February 8

Image Courtesy: West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries 

February 7 

Image Courtesy: National Park Service

February 6 

Image Courtesy: Library of Virginia Education -

February 5

Image Courtesy: ​​​

February 4

Image Courtesy: Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia


February 3

Image Courtesy: Gladys B. West (Library of Virginia)

February 2 

Image Courtesy: Library of Virginia Education -

February 1

Image Courtesy: Library of Virginia Education -


Historical Consultant
Elvatrice Belsches is a Richmond area public historian, archival researcher and presenter who specializes in chronicling the Black experience in history. She was featured in VPM’s Racism: Challenging Perceptions Series, as a panelist on the discussion of Systemic Racism. Belsches is also a co-producer and writer for VPM’s 28 Days of Black History Month campaign. In addition, she is the author of Black America Series: Richmond, Virginia (Arcadia).



Victoria York is a Digital Producer for VPM. 
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