RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Saturday marked 150 years since the founding of one of the most notable Black urban neighborhoods in the country, and the City of Richmond made sure to celebrate the occasion.
Mayor Levar Stoney, other city officials and residents of RVA gathered Saturday, April 17, to commemorate what has been coined as the “Harlem of the South” and the “Black Wall Street” — the Jackson Ward neighborhood.
Stoney declared April 17 Giles B. Jackson Day. Jackson was the first black attorney to practice before the Supreme Court of Virginia. He also was appointed chief of the Negro Division of the U.S. Employment Service in Washington, D.C., as well as lobbying Congress to address interracial labor problems and the working condition of African Americans.
The celebration of Jackson Ward started with research from the JXN Project. Two sisters behind the project, Dr. Sesha and Enjoli Moon, discovered that April 17 marked a historical moment in the city’s history.
Sesha Moon said her research found that Jackson Ward became the first historic district to apply and receive approval to be on the nation’s register as a Black urban neighborhood in 1871.
Jackson Ward had a bustling entertainment scene with nationally acclaimed musicians and entertainers like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson who would often come to visit and perform.