Virginia’s historical highway marker program began in 1927 and currently includes more than 2,600 markers. Photo by Megan Schnabel.

Here’s a roundup of news briefs from around Southwest and Southside. Send yours for possible inclusion to

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State approves 7 new historical highway markers

The Virginia Board of Historic Resources has approved seven new historical markers for sites in localities including Nottoway and Cumberland counties.

A marker in Nottoway County will recall the Luther H. Foster High School, which provided secondary education to Black students during the Jim Crow era of segregation, according to a news release announcing the markers.

The school, which opened in 1950, was named for Halifax County native Dr. Luther Hilton Foster, a leader in Black higher education who was the fourth president of what is now Virginia State University. The school closed in 1970 after the county fully desegregated its schools.

In Cumberland County, a marker will recount the history of Lucyville, a Black community established after the Civil War by the Rev. Reuben T. Coleman. In the 1890s, Lucyville included a bank, a post office, a newspaper and a mineral springs resort.

Coleman challenged segregation during Reconstruction as a local Republican officeholder. His brother-in-law Shed Dungee represented the area in the House of Delegates from 1879 to 1882. Many Lucyville residents left Cumberland County during the Great Migration.

A marker in Charles City County will tell the story of Stephen Bates, who was born enslaved in 1842 at the Shirley plantation and eventually became the earliest-known Black sheriff in the North.

Shirley claimed his freedom during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign during the Civil War, went on to work for a Union officer and subsequently left Virginia with the army in August 1862. In 1869, Bates moved to Vergennes, Vermont, where he later served as the city’s constable, and then as sheriff and chief of police.

The origins of the Belleville community will be the subject of a marker in Suffolk. The community can be traced to 1896, when the land was purchased by William Saunders Crowdy, who escaped enslavement during the Civil War and founded in Kansas the Church of God and Saints of Christ, which is today a predominantly African American Judaic community.

The Suffolk site became the international headquarters of the church in 1919, and the Belleville community developed around the church in the 1920s.

A marker in Northampton County will tell the story of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, a blues singer, songwriter and guitarist who was born in Mississippi but moved to the community of Franktown around 1960.

Crudup, who’s sometimes referred to as “The Father of Rock ’n’ Roll,” gained prominence as a recording artist in Chicago in the 1940s. In 1954, Elvis Presley’s career took off after he recorded a version of “That’s All Right,” a song originally written and performed by Crudup. Presley later covered two more of Crudup’s songs, “My Baby Left Me” and “So Glad You’re Mine.” Others who covered Crudup included The Beatles, B.B. King and Elton John.

Two markers will be placed in Richmond. One will highlight the city’s First Municipal African Cemetery, which was established in 1799 in what is now Shockoe Bottom.

Free Black Richmonders took offense at the cemetery’s location, as it was also the site of one of the local gallows and experienced frequent flooding that disturbed burials. They petitioned for a new cemetery, which led the city to open the Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground in 1816. By the 1950s, much of the original cemetery had been covered by Interstate 95 and parking lots. Starting in the early 2000s, activists led a campaign to reclaim and protect it.

Also in Richmond, a marker will note the history of the city’s Washington Park neighborhood. Around 1868, St. John Baptist Church was organized there by emancipated African Americans, who built a sanctuary in 1893. First Baptist Church was established in 1921. The Washington Park community included the Market Inn nightclub, which was listed in the Green Book, a guide for Black travelers during Jim Crow.

It can take eight months or more before a new marker is ready for installation, according to the news release. The sponsor of each marker covers the required $2,880 manufacturing expenses for a new sign.

Virginia’s historical highway marker program began in 1927 with installation of the first markers along U.S. 1 and currently includes more than 2,600 markers.

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New agreement allows Mountain Gateway CC students to continue cybersecurity studies at Old Dominion

Mountain Gateway Community College has signed an articulation agreement with Old Dominion University to offer a pathway to a bachelor of science degree in cybersecurity.

The agreement allows students who have completed an associate of applied science degree in information technology at Mountain Gateway to transfer to ODU to earn a bachelor’s degree by completing an additional 58 credits, according to a news release from the college.

For more information about the IST program at Mountain Gateway, contact Tamra Lipscomb, head of the information systems technology program, at 540-863-2896 or

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Mountain Empire CC Foundation receives matching grant for Appalachia Alumni Endowed Scholarship

The Slemp Foundation has provided a matching gift to the Mountain Empire Community College Foundation to support the newly established Appalachia Alumni Endowed Scholarship.

The Appalachia Alumni Association raised more than $5,000 to support a scholarship for Union High School students attending Mountain Empire. Their fundraising efforts were matched with $5,000 from the Slemp Foundation, which provides funding to improve the health, education and welfare of Lee and Wise county residents. To date, it has awarded more than $38 million in scholarships.

Angela Honeycutt, president of the Appalachia Alumni Association, said the gift will keep the legacy of Appalachia High School alive through future Union High School students.