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7 honored in 2019 Strong Men & Women in Virginia History program

Free Press staff report | 2/15/2019, 6 a.m.
Seven outstanding African-American leaders were celebrated during the seventh annual “Strong Men & Women in Virginia History” awards program Feb. ...

On Dec. 6, the 87-year-old Mathematician was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame by the United States Air Force at a Pentagon ceremony.

The Dinwiddie County native is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

The Rev. Andrew J. White Sr., a Petersburg minister and community activist, was well known in the Tri-Cities. He earned a master’s of divinity from Virginia Union University and is an adjunct professor there.

He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1953 and served a Northumberland County church before becoming pastor of Petersburg’s Zion Baptist Church from April 1963 until December 2011.

In 1969, Rev. White helped found the interracial Downtown Churches United, which worked with other community groups to provide food, clothing, shelter, and job assistance. He also fought for adoption of the federal food stamp program for low-income families, which the city council approved in 1970.

He was the first African-American president of the Southside Mental Health Association, and was a member of the Petersburg Hospital Authority, which oversaw the construction of a new facility.

Rev. White retired as Zion’s pastor in 2011. He served concurrently as pastor of Union Branch Baptist Church in nearby Prince George County, and in 2015 the church dedicated a community center named for him.

Four high school student essay winners were also recognized during the ceremony. Each wrote essays, selected from more than 200 entries, about what equality means to them.

The winners of the 2019 student essay competition are: Erika Garcia, Washington-Lee High School, Arlington; Katherine Stenner, Clover Hill High School, Chesterfield; Loren Vermillion, Gate City High School, Gate City; and William Lee Williams, Granby High School, Norfolk

Each student will receive an Apple MacBook Air laptop and $1,000 for their school.