May 17, 2022

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The Car & Automotive Devotees

Va. lawmakers set to approve new license plate that celebrates Black history

2 min read

A license plate that celebrates Black history is set to be approved by Virginia’s General Assembly, adding the plate to the list of options drivers in the state have when picking out a plate.

This report is part of WTOP’s coverage of Black History Month. Read more stories on WTOP.com.

A license plate that celebrates Black history is set to be approved by Virginia’s General Assembly, adding the plate to the list of options drivers have.

The license plate commemorates a Black-owned and -operated Richmond newspaper launched in 1882 by 13 former slaves.

The Richmond Planet license plate. (Courtesy Reginald Carter)

It was called The Richmond Planet, and it covered local, national and international news.

“They focused on segregation, the doings of the Ku Klux Klan, voting rights and the scourge of lynching,” said Virginia State Sen. Joe Morrissey.

The Virginia Senate unanimously approved the plate, sending it to the House of Delegates, where it is also expected to pass easily.

“It was after the Civil War when The Richmond Planet was founded,” said John Mitchell, the great-great-nephew of John Mitchell Jr., a longtime editor of the paper. “Black newspapers were the blueprint for community power.”

Mitchell Jr. became editor in 1884 and remained in the position until his death in 1929.

“In sharing the true history of our city with the world at large, my family hopes that it will draw attention to The Richmond Planet and all the Black newspapers that documented what that period was like,” said Mitchell.

The effort to get a license plate made and presented to the General Assembly was led by Reginald Carter, a Richmond resident who said he learned about The Richmond Planet while researching a lynching that took place in the Tappahanock, Virginia, area in 1896.

Carter said he found articles from the newspaper that documented the incident he was looking into.

“At that time, it peaked my interest,” said Carter. “It was at that moment that I learned that The Richmond Planet was founded by 13 former slaves.”

Carter said he hopes the license plate serves as a learning experience and a celebration of Black history.

“I just wanted this to be something that’s educational,” Carter said. “I would like, if someone sees the plate, for them to do their own independent research on The Richmond Planet.”

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Va. lawmakers set to approve new license plate that celebrates Black history