Jackson Ward to celebrate 150th anniversary

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)—Saturday marks 150 years since the inception of one of the most significant Black urban neighborhoods in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. City leaders and residents will gather this weekend to reflect on Jackson Ward’s history.

People can preregister for The Illuminating Legacies: Giles B. Jackson Day 150th Anniversary celebration. There will be live projection tours starting from the Ebenezer Baptist Church all the way to Main Street. People can ride docent trolleys or tuk tuks from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

The celebration of Jackson Ward all started with research from the JXN Project. It wasn’t until the 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 in 1871 Jackson Ward became the first historic district to apply and receive approval to be on the nation’s register as a black urban neighborhood.

“There were others before us but they were not urban communities that were designed for black occupancy from their origins,” she said.

They also researched how the area received its name. Signs point to confederate general Stonewall Jackson, Andrew Jackson and James Jackson, said Moon.

However, many believe it may have been named after civil rights activist and newspaper publisher Giles B. Jackson. “It has been a long sense of contention since 1902,” said Moon.

Mayor Levar Stoney will declare April 17 Giles B. Jackson Day. Moon said Saturday’s live displays will educate residents about Black Richmonders who experienced entrepreneurship and homeownership during part of the Antebellum periods.

“We want people to understand by traveling these projections to understand the long geographical footprint that once was Jackson Ward,” said Moon.

She claims the original boundaries of Jackson Ward extended to the corporation line in 1871 all the way to18th Street. “This is a moment worth celebrating in that this might be a local origin story, but it’s very much a part of a national narrative,” she said.

The celebrations won’t stop this weekend, Moon said they’re preparing for a year-long celebration with several planned events. Wednesday they’ll be partnering with the Library of Virginia and Richmond Public Library to launch the JXN Project summer lecture series. 

Over the summer, they’ll be partnering with Maymount and Field Studios to premiere the monument’s removal. 

The culmination event will be a partnership with Venture Richmond to unveil 15 honorary street designations for the most notable Jackson Wardians during the Second Street Festival.

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