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Newport News, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Jessie Menifield Rattley Municipal Center

Newport News, Virginia

 

—Educator, Politician and Civil Rights Pioneer —

 
Jessie Menifield Rattley Municipal Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
1. Jessie Menifield Rattley Municipal Center Marker
Inscription. Jessie Menifield Rattley (1929-2001) was born in Birmingham, Alabama. She moved to the Virginia Peninsula to attend Hampton Institute. After graduating with honors in 1951, Mrs. Rattley established the first business department at Huntington High School. In 1952, she founded the Peninsula Business College to provide training opportunities for the Peninsula’s African-American community.

In 1970, she became the first woman elected to Newport News City Council and was re-elected in 1974, 1978, 1982 and 1986. Mrs. Rottley became vice mayor in 1976 and in 1986 she became the first Black and first woman to serve as mayor of the City of Newport News. She was the first Black president of the Virginia Municipal League (1978), and the first Black woman to serve as president of the National League of Cities (1980). Mrs. Rattley also served as trustee on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the Intergovernmental Advisory Council of the US. Department of Education. Mrs. Rattley was a senior lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a professor at Hampton University. She chaired the Virginia Committee of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and served on a number of commissions, delegations and task forces.

Despite her many honors,
Jessie Menifield Rattley Municipal Center image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
2. Jessie Menifield Rattley Municipal Center
her mission to improve the community never faltered. Her love of Newport News and compassion for its citizens made her a champion for all. She believed that “to solve problems you must have real personal contact with people.”

Mrs. Rattley was known for her actions from the streets of Newport News to the hallways of the state capitol and to the East Room of the White House. In recognition of her dedicated service to the City and its citizens, the Jessie Menifield Rattley Municipal Center, which contains City Hall and the surrounding buildings and grounds, was named in her honor on July 13, 2004.
 
Location. 36° 58.656′ N, 76° 25.816′ W. Marker is in Newport News, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of 25th Street and Washington Avenue, on the right when traveling north on 25th Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Newport News VA 23607, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Newport News (within shouting distance of this marker); Warwick Hotel 1883-1961 (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Victory Arch (about 600 feet away); Headquarters, Hampton Roads (about 600 feet away); Newport News Victory Arch (about 600 feet away); A Great Confederate Naval Victory (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Newport News (approx. 0.2 miles away); A Nameless Grave (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport News.
 
Also see . . .
1. Jessie M. Rattley. The Library of Virginia (Submitted on August 3, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 

2. Jesse Menifield Rattley (1929–2001). Working Out Her Destiny: Women's History in Virginia, 1600-2004 (Library of Virginia) (Submitted on August 3, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 

3. Jessie Menifield Rattley (1929-2001), Newport News, Political Activist (pdf file). Richard Bland College (Submitted on August 3, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansCivil RightsEducationGovernmentNotable Persons
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 3, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 648 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 3, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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