Hear history from one who made it

4/13/2018, 1:25 p.m.

In recent days, we’ve enjoyed some wonderful reflections about the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his colleagues during the mid-1960s peak of the Civil Rights Movement. 

As a college student, I was witness to a similarly amazing group of Richmond civil rights leaders during that period. From their axis in Jackson Ward, where they had their professional offices, local greats like lawyers Oliver W. Hill Sr. and Henry L. Marsh III, Crusade for Voters leaders like Dr. William S. Thornton and Dr. William Ferguson Reid, Virginia NAACP Executive Secretary Lester Banks and NAACP National Voter Registration Director John M. Brooks, and Raymond H. Boone Sr., the dynamic young editor of the Richmond Afro-American, made history. 

They plotted the strategy, organized the actions and exhorted Virginia’s communities to reject segregation in all of its oppressive permutations. Their boldness and their dedication succeeded in integrating the schools and other taxpayer-supported facilities, forcing equal treatment by commercial enterprises serving the public, securing equal opportunity in all aspects of employment, and dramatically enhancing voting and participation in political decision-making.

One of these key local leaders kept achieving at high levels longer than anyone else — and still is active today. Now retired attorney Henry L. Marsh III is telling his stories of that era, as well as talking about his remarkable tenure as Richmond’s first black mayor, his 25 years on Richmond City Council, and his 22 years of service in the Virginia Senate. 

His new book is titled “Memoirs of Hon. Henry L. Marsh, III: Civil Rights Champion, Public Servant, Lawyer.” The book informs and inspires.

The Library of Virginia and the Marsh Memoirs Committee are hosting “An Evening with Henry Marsh,” Tuesday, April 17, at the Library of Virginia. It begins with a 5:30 p.m. reception. The program is at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a book signing. 

It’s a rare chance to hear history from one who made it.