Home McClellan introduces bill to rename Petersburg Post Office after VSU’s first president
Politics, Virginia

McClellan introduces bill to rename Petersburg Post Office after VSU’s first president

Rebecca Barnabi
United States Postal Service
(© LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS – stock.adobe.com)

In the last week of Black History Month, Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan, who represents Virginia’s District 4, held a press conference today at Virginia State University.

She announced the introduction of H.R. 7385, legislation to rename the Petersburg Post Office as the “John Mercer Langston United States Postal Service Building.”

“John Mercer Langston broke barriers and redefined what was possible for Black Virginians in the late 19th century. He was an abolitionist, attorney, diplomat, voting rights advocate, educational administrator, community leader, and the first Black man to represent Virginia in Congress,” McClellan said. “Mr. Langston had a profound impact on the Petersburg community as President of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute – what is now VSU. I used to come with my parents to this post office as a kid – hopefully soon, another kid coming to this post office will see John Mercer Langston’s name and want to learn more about him. As the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress, I stand on John Mercer Langston’s shoulders. I am honored to lead this effort to recognize his important contributions to our community, Commonwealth, and country.”

The legislation was introduced to rename the Post Office building at 29 Franklin Street in Petersburg in honor of John Mercer Langston, the first Black congressman from Virginia. Every member of the Virginia congressional delegation cosponsors the legislation.

“Petersburg is honored that the City’s main post office will be named for John Mercer Langston. His advocacy for civil rights and equal access to education resonated deeply in Petersburg and beyond. Langston’s legacy continues to inspire, and his contributions reflect a pivotal period in the fight for racial equality and representation in Virginia’s history,” Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham said. “He was a trailblazer for African Americans at a time when the largest number of free blacks lived on Pocahontas Island in the City. Petersburg is proud of Congresswoman McClellan’s efforts to support and encourage the recognition of African American history in our city.”

VSU Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Tia Minnis said the university is “deeply moved” by the renaming of the post office after VSU’s first president.

“This significant recognition not only celebrates Langston’s pioneering contributions to education and civil rights but also acknowledges the enduring legacy of excellence and leadership that continues to define Virginia State University,” Minnix said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.