Strong Men & Women in Virginia History

People of African descent have been a part of Virginia’s — and America’s — story since European colonization of the North American continent began. Yet the contributions of African Americans often have been ignored, obscured, or underappreciated by those who recorded history. In observance of Black History Month, the Library of Virginia and Dominion Energy honor distinguished Virginians, past and present, as Strong Men & Women in Virginia History for their important contributions to the state, the nation, or their professions. 

These men and women offer powerful examples of individuals who refused to be defined by their circumstances. Their biographies are a testament to the determination and perseverance displayed by extraordinary people during challenging times. These individuals demonstrate how African Americans have actively campaigned through education and advocacy for better lives for themselves and all Americans. 

This program, which combined Dominion’s Strong Men & Women: Excellence in Leadership series and the Library of Virginia’s African American Trailblazers in Virginia History, operates in Virginia only, and was inaugurated in January 2013.

With this program is an annual student contest with awards to students and their schools.

Resource materials for Strong Men & Women in Virginia History are available online through the Library of Virginia. Teachers may also request a set of materials to be mailed to them through our contact us page.

For information on current and past honorees and to see past posters use the following links: Virginia Changemakers and Strong Men & Women: Excellent in Leadership series. Visit our research guide for digital resources on African American History sites.

Download the 2021 poster

Below are the 2021 Strong Men & Women honorees. To learn more about each honoree visit the 2021 homepage.

The 2021 program was held virtually—watch the video.


Nominate an Honoree for 2022!

Each year the Library of Virginia and Dominion Energy celebrate the contributions of African Americans to Virginia’s history and culture during Black History Month.  We hope your class will join us in recognizing people who have made a difference by nominating an outstanding Black Virginian. We are offering an award for the school and teacher submitting a successful nomination for the 2022 Strong Men and Women in Virginia History program. If your class’s nominee is chosen, the nominating teacher will be eligible to receive $250 toward school supplies or instructional materials, along with a complimentary three-volume set of the Dictionary of Virginia Biography (a $150 value) for the school library. The teacher and class will also be recognized at the 2022 Strong Men and Women reception in Richmond. This is your chance to let your students be historians and participate in the commemoration of worthy accomplishments.

To enter, complete and submit the nomination form below. If your class creates posters, presentations, or any other type of project, we would love to see the results as well. You can include originals or photographs of your students’ work; we enjoy seeing history in action.

Where do you start? Think about people who have made a major difference in your community, the state, or their professions. Look for people who have—or who should have—made it into the history books. Please note that past honorees are ineligible for repeated recognition, so double-check the list of previous honorees before getting started.

Let your class be a part of history in the making.

Although this project was conceived primarily as a way of involving students in the history of our state, we also accept nominations from the public.

For questions concerning the nomination process, please contact education@lva.virginia.gov.

This program is offered in partnership with Dominion Energy.

(Maximum of 400 words)
(Maximum of 150 words)
(Educators, if you are submitting as a class, please include teacher's name, the school you represent, and the grade level)

Nominations for 2022 are now closed, but you can submit a nomination for 2023!


Strong Men & Women in Virginia History is a joint project of the Library of Virginia and Dominion Energy.