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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 writing contest.

The 2020 awards ceremony was held on February 6 at the Richmond Marriott. (View a news release.) This year marks the 30th anniversary of the "Strong Men & Women" series. The 2020 honorees made great advances in the fields of engineering, sports, law and activism.

2020 Honorees:

  • Kaci M. Easley, Government Official, Charles City County
  • Penny J. Franklin, Community Activist, Montgomery County
  • Joycelyn S. Harrison, Chemical Engineer and Mentor, Hampton
  • Torrey Smith, Super Bowl Champion & Philanthropist, Westmoreland County
  • Marcus D. Williams, Judge and Civic Leader, Fairfax

Student Writing Contest

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

The winners of the 2020 Strong Men & Women in Virginia History student essay writing contest:

  • Rebekah Bautista: Massaponax High School/Commonwealth Governor's School, Fredericksburg
  • Jy'Mir Starks: Great Bridge High School, Chesapeake
  • Ilaria Cabell: Forest Park High School, Woodbridge
  • Ava Seagle: Gate City High School, Gate City

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 Armani'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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