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Chapter 15 - Jackson Ward

He passed a brick fortress with giant milk bottles made of concrete blocks and covered in white plaster on three of its four corners, advertising the building’s original use. The old Richmond Dairy had been converted into apartments.


Comprising forty city blocks, Jackson Ward was America’s largest National Historic Landmark district associated with black history. It was also one of the most endangered historic neighborhoods in America.


By the turn of the twentieth century, Jackson Ward, known as the Black Wall Street, had become one of the most influential black communities in the country. Civil rights activist Maggie Walker had lived here, the first woman in the nation to found a bank.


The action had been centered on Second Street, dubbed the Deuce in its heyday, and the center of the Deuce was the Hippodrome Theater.


He moved hurriedly past houses with ornate cast-iron porches, part of Virginia’s richest trove of decorative ironwork tucked away in the historic black district.


Leela and Fattah ambled out of the garden to Mama J’s on First Street.


Fattah started walking at a fast clip toward Leigh Street on his way to Virginia Union University. Union was Richmond’s historically black college, started after the Civil War in the former Lumpkin’s Slave Jail.


There was Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, “the King of Tap Dancers,” born in Jackson Ward, replicated in Reynolds Aluminum . . . .

Jackson Ward Historic District

Black History Museum

Maggie L Walker Historical Site

The Hippodrome

Mama J's

Virginia Union University