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Dominion Energy Virginia and the Library of Virginia present Strong Men & Women in Virginia History. This program honors distinguished African-American leaders in Virginia, and features a student creative expressions contest.

The 2023 awards ceremony will be held on June 15. The 2023 honorees are recognized for their important contributions to Virginia, the nation, and/or their professions. They serve as a testament to the determination and perseverance displayed by extraordinary people during challenging times. 

2023 Honorees:

  • Kendall Holbrook, CEO & Mentor, Fairfax County
  • Ora Scruggs McCoy, Farmer & Community Activist, Appomattox County
  • Wendell Oliver Scott, Stock Car Driver, Danville (honored posthumously)
  • Colonel Quentin Joseph Smith, Jr., USAF- Retired, Air Force Pilot & Mentor, Hampton
  • Sheila Bowen Taylor, Nuclear Engineer & Mentor, Norfolk
  • Reverend Raymond Rogers "R.R." Wilkinson, Baptist Minister & Civil Rights Leader, Roanoke (honored posthumously)

Student Contest

High school students across Virginia are invited each year to honor outstanding African Americans by participating in Dominion Energy and the Library of Virginia's Strong Men & Women in Virginia History student creative expressions contest. Four winning entries are chosen, one from each of the four service regions in Virginia (Central, Eastern, Northern and Western).

The winners of the 2023 Strong Men & Women in Virginia History student contest are:

  • Jonah Burton: Henrico High School, Henrico County (12th grade)
  • Alexa Koeckritz: Grafton High School, York County (12th grade)
  • Maria Turner: Patrick County High School, Patrick County (11th grade)
  • Lily Vietmeyer: Washington-Liberty High School, Arlington County (12th grade)

Dominion Energy and the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) present Strong Men & Women In South Carolina History. Building on SCDE’s longstanding South Carolina African American History Calendar, which honors prominent African Americans in the state who have made noteworthy contributions, the Strong Men & Women in South Carolina History program will now feature an essay contest for high school students.

All South Carolina high school juniors and seniors are invited to honor outstanding African Americans by participating in the contest. Five Winning essays will be chosen from each of South Carolina’s five regions: Midlands, Upstate, Lowcountry, Pee Dee and Central Savannah River Area (CSRA).

2023 Prompt: The International African American Museum (IAAM) is expected to open soon on the hallowed grounds of Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina. This highly anticipated museum will commemorate and celebrate the foundational role that Africans and their descendants played in the making of America, and highlight their connections around the world. Tell why you think it is important to learn about the history of African Americans and their contributions to South Carolina.

2023 Strong Men & Women in South Carolina Essay Contest Winners

Grayson Fleury

Grayson Fleury

North Augusta High School
North Augusta, SC

Read Grayson's Essay

Amari James

Amari James

Wilson High School
Florence, SC

Read Amari's Essay

Jace Kraftchick

Jace Kraftchick

Oceanside Collegiate Academy
Mt. Pleasant, SC

Read Jace's Essay

Isabella Whittle

Isabella Whittle

Fort Mill, SC

Read Isabella's Essay

La'Deja Williams

La'Deja Williams

Richland Northeast High School
Columbia, SC

Read La'Deja's Essay

Winners from Previous Years




Winning students and their school representatives will be invited to attend a ceremony to receive their awards.

Winning students will receive an Apple MacBook Air!

Winning students’ schools will receive an award of $1,000!

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