Ettrick in Chesterfield County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Virginia State University
— Chesterfield County —
Virginia State University was chartered by the Virginia legislature in 1882 as the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. Delegate Alfred W. Harris, an African American attorney in Petersburg, championed the charter and supported it through the ensuing lawsuits attempting to stop its existence. The school was the country's first for African Americans authorized to grant a college degree, to have an African American board of visitors, and to have an all-African American faculty by charter. A year and a half after being chartered, the school was built and opened. In 1902 the college program was abolished and the name was changed to the Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute. The college courses were restored in 1922. In 1930, the college was renamed the Virginia State College for Negroes, and in 1946 it became Virginia State University (VSU). Its first president, John Mercer Langston, went on in 1888 to be the only Black from Virginia elected to serve in the U.S. Congress (a record he held until 1992). In its first year, VSU had 126 students and 7 faculty, all Black. By 1982, a century after being chartered, there was a fully
The graduating class of 1886 with three faculty members. Seated from left to right: President John M. Langston, Robert Green (student), Mrs. Ida R. Harris (faculty), and Professor James Colson Jr. Students standing, from left to right: James Shields, Lucretia Campbell, Susie Douglas, Fannie Walker, Carrie Bragg, Willie Davis, and Jerry Lucas.
John Mercer Langston was the first president of the school now known as Virginia State University. He was the third head of the institution, following two principals, James Storum and James M. Colson, Jr., Langston was the first to hold the title of president. He served from January 1886 to December 1887.
Old Virginia Hall, the original building on the VSU campus. It contained classrooms, a library, student dormitories, a cafeteria, administrative offices, faculty housing, an infirmary, and an auditorium. It was torn down in the 1930s and replaced by the modern-day Virginia Hall, which is smaller in size.
Erected by Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail. (Marker Number CH1.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Civil Rights • Education • Government & Politics. In addition, it is included in the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail, and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is January 1886.
Location. 37° 14.572′ N, 77° 25.281′ W. Marker is in Ettrick, Virginia, in Chesterfield County. Marker is at the intersection of Matthews Jefferson Drive and East River Road, on the right when traveling east on Matthews Jefferson Drive. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3112 E River Rd, Petersburg VA 23803, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Virginia State University (within shouting distance of this marker); Founding of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad (approx. ¼ mile away); Amaza Lee Meredith (1895-1984) (approx. 0.3 miles away); Ettrick Veterans Memorial (approx. half a mile away); Restoration of Vawter Hall (approx. 0.6 miles away); Restoration of Storum Hall (approx. 0.6 miles away); Colonial Heights War Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Ettrick (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ettrick.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Old Marker At This Location also titled "Virginia State University".
Credits. This page was last revised on November 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 23, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 134 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on August 23, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.