CHARLES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The courthouse in Charles City County was renamed Sunday after an African American pioneer, Iona Whitehead Adkins.
“When people see the name on this building they will realize what can be achieved with hard work, community and dedication,” said Reverend Ellsworth Tait.
It’s a name that means a lot to the community around it.
“Iona provided an opportunity for others to know that America is a great place to be in,” her son Byron Adkins Sr. said.
Iona W. Adkins was the first African American to be elected to a court of record in the United States since reconstruction of the south. Serving for 21 years, and paving the way for others.
“Millennials often think that we were the first to do it and that we did it the best,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “Well, I’m here today to let you all know we are standing on the shoulders of giants and trailblazers.”
Former Governor Terry McAuliffe joined other elected officials to remember the legend of Iona Adkins being elected in 1967 and holding the seat until ’88.
“In many southern states there had been a lot of issues and for an African American woman to step up to the plate and say I’m running for office,” McAuliffe said. “Folks, it took a tremendous amount of courage if you think what she went through.”
For Byron Adkins Sr., renaming the courthouse after his mother is an honor not just for his family but the entire county.
“We need leaders with integrity that stand up and represent the people and she stood for that,” said Adkins Sr.
He also tells 8News the renaming process began in 2004, so for it to become a reality shows the hard work and dedication his mother represents.