On Feb. 6, Mayor Will Sessoms presented a proclamation for African American Heritage Month to community leaders who are helping plan the African American Cultural Center, which will be next to Lake Edward Park at the corner of Newtown and Diamond Springs roads. The center’s executive board attended the ceremony.
Here is the text of the proclamation.
WHEREAS: People of African descent have contributed to the community in Virginia Beach for nearly 400 years; and
WHEREAS: The general commemoration of the historical contributions of African Americans in Virginia and elsewhere was first established as Negro History Week in 1926 by a native Virginian, Carter G. Woodson; and
WHEREAS: President Gerald R. Ford expanded this commemoration and celebration to encompass Black History Month in 1976; and
WHEREAS: Since 1996, the President of the United States has issued an annual proclamation for National African American History Month; and
WHEREAS: The theme of the commemoration in 2018 is African Americans in Times of War; and
WHEREAS: African Americans from Virginia Beach have served honorably and bravely in times of war, including Miles James, who was born a slave in Princess Anne County and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on the battlefield in the battle of New Market Heights in 1864; and
WHEREAS: Beginning in 1619, Many African Americans were brought to Virginia against their will, and were enslaved for their labor until 1865; and
WHEREAS: The Seatack area in Virginia Beach is one of the oldest free African American communities in the United States; and
WHEREAS: Willis Augustus Hodges was the first African American elected to office, representing Princess Anne County in the State Constitutional Convention of 1867-68; and
WHEREAS: African Americans have overcome enslavement, discrimination and adversity to make positive contributions in education, business, government, military, entertainment, athletics and all forms of enterprise, service and achievement in Virginia Beach, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States of America; and
WHEREAS: The Mayor and City Council supports the establishment of an African American Cultural Center in Virginia Beach as a hub for African American culture and history.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, William D. Sessoms, Jr., Mayor of the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, do hereby proclaim:
African American Heritage Month
In Virginia Beach, and furthermore call upon the citizens, government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses and schools in Virginia Beach to recognize the contributions of African Americans to the history and development of the city, state and nation and to commemorate this month with appropriate activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Official Seal of the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, to be affixed this Sixth day of February, Two Thousand and Eighteen.
William D. Sessoms, Jr.
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