Personality: Edward G. Hamlin Jr.
Spotlight on 2019 Astorian of the Year
1/17/2020, 6 a.m.
An award from one of Richmond’s oldest African-American organizations would be an extraordinary honor for just about anyone.
For Edward Ganon Hamlin Jr., his award reaffirms his close connection to a group that has helped him “define what a man should contribute to a community organization.”
Mr. Hamlin, a 73-year-old Portsmouth native, was recently named 2019 Astorian of the Year by the Astoria Beneficial Club, a 117-year-old organization that works “to inspire outstanding men from every walk of life to higher moral, intellectual, civic and social standing.”
Created in 1901 by 22 African-American men, the club works “to make Richmond a community of hope and coop- eration today and tomorrow,” according to the website.
The club has 65 to 85 active members dedicating their time, resources and experiences to the cause of advancing African-American standing in the Commonwealth’s capital.
Their past successes include promoting equal pay for Richmond Public Schools teachers, advocating for voter rights and voter registration, and boosting African-American participation in civic affairs.
The club has erected statues to Richmond heroes, including one to tap-dancing great and movie star Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, whose statue stands at the intersection of Adams and Leigh streets where Mr. Robinson once paid to install a traffic light. The club also erected a statue on Brown’s Island paying tribute to the African-American boatmen who piloted canal boats and were critical to the commercial development of the James River.
The club also annually gives college scholarships to high school seniors and contributes to a variety of African- American groups and institutions, ranging from the NAACP to the United Negro College Fund and Virginia Union University.
Mr. Hamlin has participated in some of these and other club initiatives in the more than 30 years he has been a member, including serving as president from 1997 to 1998.
During Mr. Hamlin’s tenure as president, he also served as chairman the club’s Special Projects Committee and was involved in organizing the club’s annual “Bojangles” celebration program.
For Mr. Hamlin, the Astorian of the Year award is the latest reminder of the work he has done for the club and the community.
An Air Force veteran, Mr. Hamlin joined the club in 1987, motivated by a desire “to belong to an organization of distinction and value that gave back to the community.”
More recently, Mr. Hamlin has been part of the club’s Parental Assistance Lead- ership Service program, a men- toring program for city schoolchildren. Through the program, he has read to and served as a lunch buddy for students at Fairfield Court Elementary School.
Mr. Hamlin also is working to support the endeavors of current club President Wayne Rachel Sr. He also is part of efforts by the club to recruit new, younger members with new ideas who can help push the organization while continuing to be “inspiring in any way that we can to do great things for the Richmond community.”
Meet community-minded Astorian of the Year and this week’s Personality, Edward Ganon Hamlin Jr.:
Latest honor: Selected 2019 Astorian of the Year by the Astoria Beneficial Club.