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Leesburg Recognizes Local Impact of Black History Month
Leesburg, VA (February 11, 2019) – In honor of Black History Month, the Town of Leesburg is highlighting the people, places, and events that have contributed to a long and rich African American history that is both unique and reflective of Leesburg and Loudoun County as a whole. People of African descent have been part of Leesburg since its founding in 1758. They built and maintained many of the buildings that still stand today.
Robinson’s Barber Shop
Established in 1888 and owned by Verdie Robinson, Robinson's Barber Shop (4 Loudoun Street, SW), was once reserved for whites because they insisted upon segregation, and serving them made the business more lucrative.
However, in 1962, following Robinson’s death, two of his barbers, Raymond Hughes and Horace Nelson Lassiter, demanded that black clients be served. Robinson’s widow, Annie, sold the shop to both men, who immediately integrated the business. Just last year, Lassiter retired his sheers. The alley to the left of the barber shop, will be named in his honor on February 23, 2019.
Silas Randall’s Home and Stable
African American’s were very prominent in the horse industry in Loudoun County. Among them, was Silas Randall, who lived at 108 Church Street, NE.
Randall trained and boarded horses, not far from his home, and taught children of many wealthy whites, especially in the skills and etiquette of foxhunting.
He rode with the Loudoun Hunt as a highly regarded groomsman, whose role was to guide the huntsman or woman safely through the fields, and over fences and creeks. He rode in, and won steeplechase races even during the 1930s when he was in his sixties.
The Mount Zion United Methodist Church (2 North Street, NE) is the oldest continuing black congregation in Loudoun county and Virginia. After the Civil War, the congregation, which had been worshiping at the Old Stone Church site (Liberty and Cornwall streets) decided to build their own church. They asked the well-educated and highly respected Reverend William O. Robey, to help start Mt. Zion. The members raised $250 and built the church in 1867.
Mount Zion Community Cemetery
In the 1850s, a portion of the Old Stone Church graveyard was allotted to black members. The segregation was underscored when Liberty Street was extended. The African American burial ground is now called the Mount Zion Community Cemetery. It is maintained by Mount Zion United Methodist Church, and is still in use. Many of those, who made an impact on the local African American culture, are buried here today.
This triangle has a past and present in the movement for racial justice. Marie Moton Medley’s home and hairdressing shop stood just behind the current building. She became an activist in the fight for a high school for African Americans in Loudoun County, among many other things. In 2000, the Loudoun County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) established their first public office in the Barrister building. Its members, of all races, continue to work for equality.
* Check back every Monday, during the month of February, for a new highlight.