Presentation on African-American women trailblazers Saturday at Main Library Downtown
3/4/2017, 10:48 a.m.
Historian Elvatrice Belsches will talk about the lives of four trailblazing African-American women 1 p.m. Saturday, March 4, in the auditorium of the Richmond Public Library’s Main Branch, 101 E. Franklin St. in Downtown.
The title of her multimedia presentation: “Monuments of Virtue, Pillars of Grace: A Celebration of the Lives of Dr. Sarah G. Jones M.D., Elizabeth Keckly, Virginia Randolph and Maggie L. Walker.”
The women will be among 12 whose bronze statues are slated to be placed at the Virginia Women’s Monument in Capitol Square.
Dr. Jones of Richmond, who died in 1905, was one of the first women to pass the Virginia Medical Examining Board’s test to become a physician. She was instrumental in establishing a hospital and nursing school in 1902 that became Richmond Community Hospital.
Ms. Keckly, who was born in Dinwiddie in 1818, was a dress designer who bought her freedom. She later became the dress designer and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln when her husband, Abraham Lincoln, was president. Ms. Keckly established the Contraband Relief Association in Washington, which provided support for newly freed slaves and wounded soldiers.
Ms. Randolph, a nationally known educator, was born in 1870 and based in Henrico County. She led a program to guide and provide vocational training and strengthening school curricula throughout the South. She also founded the first Arbor Day program in Virginia.
Ms. Walker, who died in 1934, was the first African-American woman to found and become president of a chartered bank in the United States. She founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank in Richmond and was an admired businesswoman and newspaper publisher.
Ms. Belsches is a historical researcher, author and lecturer who has served as a special projects researcher for the National Park Service, The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. She has been a historical consultant on several documentaries and was the writer and historical researcher for the film, “The Life and Times of Elizabeth Keckly,” directed by Tim Reid. She also was an in-studio historical researcher on director Steven Spielberg’s motion picture “Lincoln.”
Following her presentation, she will be signing copies of her newly updated publication, “Black America Series: Richmond, Virginia.”
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