FCPS Launches Historical Marker Project to Highlight Untold Stories of County’s African American Communities

February 01, 2022

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (BOS) announced the launch of their joint Historical Marker Project today. The purpose of the project is to bring attention to untold or lesser known histories from Fairfax County communities. The rich history, culture, and accomplishments of these communities is often underrepresented in history books and school curriculum. The first focus of the project is Fairfax County’s Black and African American communities.

FCPS will provide resources to support students in grades four through 12 with researching untold local stories of Black/African Americans and groups who have impacted our community. The Historical Marker Project will be available to all teachers, and all K-12 students residing in Fairfax County (public, private, or homeschooled) can suggest topics for new historical markers throughout the county. Students will be able to access resources to assist with their research on FCPS' website.

“We are incredibly proud to launch this joint initiative with our county partners, particularly as we begin to celebrate Black History Month,” said Fairfax County School Board Member Karl Frisch (Providence District). ”All students residing in Fairfax County are able to engage in this unique learning opportunity, and I am eager to hear the compelling stories they uncover.”

As part of the Historical Marker Project, students will focus on Portrait of a Graduate skills, such as communication and collaboration, by engaging in inquiry to recognize the voices, experiences, and achievements of Black/African Americans from Fairfax County. Students can submit suggested topics featuring a person, place, or event from February 1-March 31. The Historical Marker Project is an optional activity; students will not be required to participate.

It will expand to include other underrepresented stories in the coming years.

The Historical Marker Project is part of Fairfax County’s broader Black/African American Experience Project--a collaboration involving the BOS, History Commission, and Neighborhood and Community Services. “This year’s Historical Marker Project will provide our county an opportunity to recognize the remarkable contributions of the Black/African Americans here in Fairfax County,” said Board of Supervisors Dalia A. Palchik (Providence District). The Fairfax County/FCPS joint initiative will allow our students to engage in Fairfax County’s history and tell our communities stories and preserve them for generations to come.“

Fairfax County Chairman Jeffrey C. McKay; Board of Supervisors Palchik, Rodney L. Lusk, and Kathy L. Smith; and Frisch spearheaded the Historical Marker Project. The project aligns with the One Fairfax policy, which commits both Boards to consider equity in decision-making and in the development and delivery of future policies, programs, and services. Visit Fairfax County's website for submission guidelines.

In related news, learn more about FCPS student contributions to county historical markers

  • Laurel Ridge Elementary - In 2020, students from Laurel Ridge Elementary School successfully petitioned for a roadside marker dedicated to Ona Judge, a woman born into slavery at George Washington's Mount Vernon. The students' efforts resulted in the marker being erected In June 2021, close to the estate. (See photo at the top of this page.) 
  • Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences - Governor Northam announced four students and a teacher from Hunters Woods Elementary School successfully nominated W.W. Yen, who will now be honored with a roadside marker in Charlottesville. Yen graduated from the University of Virginia in 1900, where he was the first international student to earn a bachelor’s degree and the first Chinese student to earn a degree. One of China’s key early 20th century leaders, Yen served as premier five times and held a series of important cabinet and diplomatic posts. The University of Virginia now has a dorm and scholarship fund named after him. (August 3, 2021)
  • Kings Glen Elementary - Kings Glen Elementary School Students and Staff Making History, One Marker at a Time (May 14, 2021)