Name: Douglas Wilder
Basics: Wilder is the first black governor of Virginia and the first black governor to have been elected since Reconstruction. The grandson of slaves, Douglas was born in Richmond in 1931. He served in the Korean War and was awarded the Bronze Heart for his actions in that conflict. Wilder was elected Governor in 1989 in an election so close that it required a recount. Because of him, Virginia was the first southern state to cut off ties with South Africa due to its enforcement of apartheid.
Why I Chose Them: It is easy to forget how far we’ve come and how quick this progress has come. I wanted to highlight Wilder because I think he shows the power of progress but he also shows just how close to us the history of slavery really is. It seems like every year America would have you believe that slavery happened further and further ago. Yet this man was the grandson of slaves! We need to teach our children about the proper timeline of history. We must control the narrative and we must remind them of the trials people like Wilder had to face.