RI Academy Memorial Marker

“Education First and Foremost: The History and Legacy of the Rappahannock Industrial Academy” is the title of a public program that will be conducted by Zoom on Sunday, February 21, 2021, at 3 p.m. Presented by the Rappahannock Industrial Academy Alumni Association (RIAAA), the program will explore the history of the RI Academy starting with its conceptualization by the Southside Rappahannock Baptist Association in the 1890s.

Located in Essex County, Virginia, and in operation from 1902 through 1948, the RI Academy was a private boarding school that provided high school education for African Americans at a time when it was not offered by area public schools. The story of how the Academy served its students and the broader community is compelling and yet not broadly known. It is a story of dedication, perseverance and determination in the face of racism and economic challenges, as well as one of triumph over adversity. The program will also discuss the extension of the Academy’s legacy into the twenty-first century through a scholarship program and innovative uses of the 300-acre property.

The program will be moderated by RIAAA Board Member Minister Regina Blagmon. Presenters will include Bessida Cauthorne White, RIAAA board president, and the Reverend T. James Hill, Sr., president, Rappahannock Industrial Academy Task Force. The Reverend Dr. Andrew Jackson White, Sr. an RI Academy alumnus, will share recollections. Joining the conversation will be Dr. Ira C. Harris, Luther P. Jackson III, the Honorable Deborah Robinson and George Francis Washington who will discuss their family connections to the RI Academy. Scholarship winners Minister Faye Bundy Jones and Georgiana Iesha Lee will talk about the impact of receipt of the RI Academy scholarship on their academic careers. A question and answer period will follow.

Endorsing organizations for the program include Essex County Museum and Historical Society, Essex County Public Library, The Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society, The King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum, Middlesex County Public Library and Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society.

To receive an invitation for this virtual program, email RIAcademyAlumni@gmail.com or call 804-758-5163. The program will be accessible by video conference or by conference call.