Screen Shot 2020 08 14 at 6.30.37 PMRecently, USA Today profiled "Influential Women of Virginia - Twelve women who were chosen from a list of nearly 70. Among them was our founder, Dr. Mary T. Christian. Here's their profile of her:

Throughout her career, Mary T. Christian was a champion of education, a longtime legislator and a committed community leader. Christian was the first Black person and the first woman to represent Virginia’s 92nd House District and the city of Hampton after Reconstruction. After her 1985 election, she served as delegate until her retirement in 2004. Christian was also the first Black woman elected to the Hampton City School Board. 

Born and raised in Hampton, Virginia, Christian grew up as the second of five children. After high school, she earned a bachelor’s in elementary education from Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), a master’s from Columbia University and a doctorate in education from Michigan State University.

She began her career as an educator at Aberdeen Elementary School in Hampton, where she was an elementary school teacher. Christian, or “Dr. C” as her students called her, eventually served as a professor at Hampton University for more than 25 years and became dean of the School of Education. 

Christian was a political activist and served as a campaign manager on four campaigns before launching her own political career. During her time in the General Assembly, Christian was a member of several committees and was one of the first Black people appointed to the House Appropriations Committee. She focused on supporting and introducing education and healthcare legislation.

After she retired from the General Assembly, Christian did not simply relax at home; she continued to organize in her community. In 2013 she co-founded the Barrett-Peake Heritage Foundation, an organization that aims to restore and preserve African American sites in Hampton, Virginia. In the 1990s, Christian gained support for her movement to preserve African American cemeteries. The Barrett-Peake Heritage Foundation continues this work and hopes to fulfill Christian’s vision for the foundation’s future.

You can read the entire article HERE.

King Street CemeteryIn Honor of our Founder, the late Dr. Mary Christian, we chose to maintain her tradition of cemetery preservation during the Memorial Day weekend.

Given COVID-19, we couldn't convene at the cemeteries on Memorial Day as we normally would, but were still able to do significant maintenance thanks to the generosity of a core group of volunteers and contributors.

Thank you!

Media coverage of our cleanup

The Board of Directors thanks City of Hampton School Board Member Jason Samuels and his family for conducting voluntary cleanup at Historic Elmerton Cemetery on King Street, in honor of Dr. Mary T. Christian, February 17, 2020.

(Photos courtesy of Mr. Jason Samuels)

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    BPF RenovationsFeb2017The Barrett-Peake Heritage Foundation envisions preserving historic sites and venues in the city of Hampton, by upgrading and securing signage for historic cemeteries and develop new educational and cultural initiatives at the former Virginia School for Deaf, Blind and Multi-Disabled at Hampton.

    Our vision for the historic Federation House is to create a 1920s museum and cultural center for the community. We aim to keep the history of African Americans alive in the city of Hampton.

    The Barrett-Peake Heritage Foundation mourns the passing of Dr. Mary Robinson Taylor Christian

    Doc2014On November 11, 2019, political and community icon, Dr. Mary Robinson Taylor Christian was called home from labor to reward. A native of Hampton, Virginia, she was born into the fellowship of First Baptist Church, one of the Contraband churches founded by newly freedpeople in 1863. After finishing the historic Phenix High School, she married and had two children.

    She began her distinguished academic career at Hampton Institute (now University). Dr. Christian helped form the Community Progress Community, a leading voter activist organization. As a school teacher, she taught hundreds of children in the city, and earned the distinction of becoming the first African American woman elected to the School Board. (She followed William Mason Cooper, who was the first African American elected to the Board.) At Hampton University, she served as Director and rose to the position of Dean of the School of Education in 1980, before retiring as Professor Emeritus.

    As a political activist, she worked on many political campaigns, serving as campaign manager on four political campaigns because deciding to enter politics herself. In 1985, Dr. Christian was the first African American and first female from Hampton to be elected to the state legislature, post Reconstruction. She went on to serve nine consecutive terms representing Virginia’s 92 House District.

    UnveilingMarkers2018JIn the 1990s, Dr. Christian galvanized community momentum through her preservation efforts of historic African American cemeteries. This effort continues today and is one of the flagship goals of the Barrett-Peake Heritage Foundation, which she founded in 2013. Dr. Christian envisioned the Foundation’s work to not only renovate the historic Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs Headquarters , but to maintain preservation efforts of historic cemeteries and purchase cemetery signage. She envisioned the headquarters as a place of youth mentoring development and a space for community meetings. Dr. Christian also had plans to develop new initiatives at the site of the historic Virginia School for Deaf, Blind and Multi-Disabled. This work will continue.

    Please pray for her husband and family. Pause as you read this press release for such an icon who gave her all, to all who would receive her goodness.

    An Unveiling of Historic Significance

    On Sunday, May 20, 2018, we unveiled two new historic markers at the historic headquarters of the 1908 Virginia Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. 

    The event was a complete success with Mayor Tuck, Senator Mamie Locke, Delegate Jeion Ward, and U. S. Congressman Robert 'Bobby' Scott, Councilman Will Moffett in attendance. Minister Larry Gibson provided the Invocation and Blessing of the Marker.

    Please enjoy the photos from the event below:

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