Leesburg, VA (Feb. 4, 2016) – The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has proclaimed February as Black History Month in Loudoun. The Board’s resolution, adopted Tuesday night, states that “throughout the rich and impressive history of Loudoun County, Americans of African heritage substantially and significantly contributed to the educational, economic, social and spiritual well-being of Loudoun County in ways too numerous to count.”
The resolution also points out that history was made in Loudoun County in November 2015 when Phyllis Randall was elected as the first African American chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and the first African American woman to chair a county board in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Also, Sterling District Representative Koran Saines joined Randall as one of the first two African Americans elected to serve on the Loudoun Board.
In conjunction with Black History Month, the office of the Loudoun Clerk of the Circuit Court will host a talk on “Leonard A. Grimes: Free Black Champion of Freedom” at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, February 6, 2016. Born and raised in Leesburg, Grimes was an early organizer of the Underground Railroad in Washington, D.C., and became a prominent pastor and anti-slavery activist in Boston. Deborah Lee will present her research on Grimes and his high-profile trial in 1840 at the Loudoun County Courthouse. The talk will be held at the courthouse, 18 East Market Street, Leesburg. Enter at the old courthouse on King Street. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Eric Larson, Historic Records Manager in the Clerk’s office, at 703-737-8391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The February 6 talk is one of three being held in Loudoun this month focusing on the “Network to Freedom” sites in the county as designated by the National Park Service. During the time of slavery, enslaved African Americans who sought to gain their freedom through escape were often assisted by others who were opposed to slavery. Often referred to as the Underground Railroad, there were numerous escape routes throughout the United States. Loudoun County was part of routes to the north, west, and east. Loudoun is home to four freedom sites: the Loudoun County Courthouse, Melrose Farm in Waterford, Oatlands, and the Thomas Balch Library. A series of talks during Black History Month will discuss the stories of these sites. All talks start at 2:00 p.m. and are free and open to the public.
The talks are sponsored by the Black History Committee of the Friends of the Thomas Balch Library; Gary M. Clemens, Clerk of the Circuit Court; Oatlands Historic House and Gardens; and the Waterford Foundation. More information, including the schedule of talks, is online at www.loudoun.gov/clerk-archives.