Virginia State University

Virginia State University (HMH9V)

Location: Petersburg, VA 23803
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 14.571', W 77° 25.28'

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Ettrick, Virginia

— Chesterfield County —

Virginia State University was chartered by the Virginia legislature in 1882 as the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. Delegate Alfred W. Harris, an African-American attorney in Petersburg, championed the charter and supported it through the ensuing lawsuits attempting to stop its existence. Virginia State University was the first state supported school for African Americans in the United States authorized to grant a college degree, and also have an African-American board of visitors and an all African-American faculty by charter. A year and a half later, the school was built and opened. In 1902 the college program was abolished and the name was changed to Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute. The college courses were later restored in 1922. In 1930 the college was renamed The Virginia State College for Negroes, and in 1946, Virginia State University. Its first president, John Mercer Langston, went on in 1888 to be the only black elected to the United States Congress from Virginia (a record held until 1992). In its first year, Virginia State had 126 students and seven faculty, all black. One hundred years later, in 1982, there was a fully integrated student body of nearly 5,000 and a full-time faculty, also integrated, of 250. The one original building had grown to more than 50.

(Above) The graduating class of 1886 with three faculty members. Seated from left to right: President John M. Langston, Robert Green (student), Mrs. Ida R Harris (faculty) and Professor James Colson, Jr. Students standing left to right: James Shields, Lucretia Campbell, Susie Douglas, Fannie Walker, Carrie Bragg, Willie Davis, and Jerry Lucas.

(Left) Old Virginia Hall, the original building on the VSU campus. It contained classrooms, a library, student dormitories, a cafeteria, administrative offices, faculty housing, an infirmary, and an auditorium. It was torn down in the 1930s and replaced by the new Virginia Hall which has much smaller dimensions.

(Above Right) John Mercer Langston was the first president of what is now Virginia State University. He was the third head of the institution, following two principals, James Storum and James M. Colson, Jr.. Langston was the first with the title of president. He served from January 1, 1886 to December 1887.

All photos courtesy of Virginia State University Archives
HM NumberHMH9V
Marker Number11
Placed ByCivil Rights in Education Heritage Trail?
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 27th, 2014 at 4:42pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 285229 N 4124560
Decimal Degrees37.24285000, -77.42133333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 14.571', W 77° 25.28'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 14' 34.26" N, 77° 25' 16.80" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804, 434, 757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 20800 Matthews Jefferson Dr, Petersburg VA 23803, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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