Black Churches of Virginia
VPM News Focal Point's Black Churches of Virginia series explores the evolving legacy of historic African American churches and celebrates the singular beauty and power of Black church culture, sharing the stories and experiences of churches, gospel artists, and leaders in Richmond, Petersburg, Hanover, Prince Edward, King & Queen, and Cumberland Counties.
Virginia's Black churches are not only living repositories of Black history; they are evidence of how African Americans contributed to the birth and building of the state and nation. After more than 150 years of service, many of these congregations labor on, battling present-day civil and human rights injustices, developing today's leaders, sustaining their members' faith, and enriching Virginia's social and cultural landscape.
Produced and reported by Samantha Willis. Director of Photography, Martin Montgomery.
Formerly enslaved preacher John Jasper founded Richmond’s Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in an abandoned Confederate horse stable, two years after the Civil War’s end. Today, it’s a local pinnacle of faith and service and remains an essential source of support and sustenance for thousands in the region.
In December 2019, then-Gov. Ralph Northam and Wegmans Food Market, Inc. announced plans to construct a 1.1 million-square-foot regional distribution facility in Hanover County. The facility's 219-acre site is situated in the small, rural, Black community of Brown Grove, founded in the Reconstruction era by formerly enslaved men and women on land owned by its 19th century community matriarch Caroline Morris.
The Rev. Cora Harvey Armstrong, a VUU alumna, is one of Virginia’s most celebrated gospel artists, and her career spans 50 years and three continents.