A license plate honoring black history must be approved by the Virginia General Assembly by adding the number to a list of options that drivers in the state have when choosing a number.
This report is part of the coverage of WTOP Month of Black History. Read more stories at WTOP.com.
A license plate that honors the history of blacks intended for approval The Virginia General Assembly has added a nameplate to the list of parameters that drivers have.
The license plate commemorates the Richmond newspaper, owned and operated by blacks, published in 1882 by 13 former slaves.
It was called The Richmond Planet, and it covered local, national and international news.
“They focused on segregation, the Ku Klux Klan, voting rights and the problem of lynching,” said Virginia Sen. Joe Morrissey.
The Virginia Senate unanimously approved the table, sending it to the House of Delegates, where it is also expected to pass easily.
“Planet Richmond was founded after the Civil War,” said John Mitchell, great-great-nephew of John Mitchell Jr., a longtime newspaper editor. “Black newspapers were an example of public power.”
Mitchell Jr. became editor in 1884 and remained in that position until his death in 1929.
“Thanks to the true history of our city with the world, my family hopes this will draw attention to The Richmond Planet and all the black newspapers that have documented what that period was like,” Mitchell said.
Efforts to make the license plate and present it to the General Assembly were led by Reginald Carter, a Richmond resident who said he learned about the planet Richmond during a lynching study that took place in the Topahanoka area of Virginia in 1896.
Carter said he found articles from the newspaper that documented the incident he was investigating.
“At the time, it reached the peak of my interest,” Carter said. “At that point, I learned that the planet Richmond was founded by 13 former slaves.”
Carter said he hoped the license plate would serve as a teaching and celebration of black history.
“I just wanted it to be something educational,” Carter said. “I wish if anyone saw the plate, they would conduct their own independent research on the planet Richmond.”
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