Historical Marker Contest Update

By Communication and Community Relations
February 09, 2023

In 2022, area students submitted historical marker proposals to highlight the contributions of Black Americans in our communities. Six markers were chosen to be installed in 2023, and a committee is working on refining the language for the markers. 

The six markers to be installed will recognize:

  • Louise Archer, an educator and namesake of Louise Archer Elementary School, who supported numerous students over her time.
  • Lillian Blackwell, who sued successfully to ban segregation of public accommodations.
  • Annie Harper, who challenged the constitutionality of Virginia’s poll tax.
  • Gunnell’s Chapel, which was built on land donated by once enslaved Robert Gunnell. The chapel was also used as a school house.
  • Colin Powell, a long time county resident, four star General, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, founder of organization America’s Promise, the first African American Secretary of State, and namesake of Colin Powell Elementary School.
  • The West Springfield 16, who were enslaved persons who labored and lived where West Springfield High School is located today. See a video about the West Springfield 16.

See the list of students and sponsors of the 14 finalist proposed historical markers.

The historical marker project was a joint effort between the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County Public Schools, the Fairfax County History Commission, and Neighborhood and Community Services.