March is National Women’s History Month and we’re proud to say that we’ve had some groundbreaking women come out of LYH. From history makers to community leaders, get to know these pioneering Lynchburg women below.
One of the most pivotal voices during the Harlem Renaissance called Lynchburg home. Born to former slaves in 1882, Anne Spencer was an internationally-acclaimed African American poet in the 1920s. Even though she was far away from New York City, her 30 published poems helped shape the movement, as they covered subjects such as religion and race. She was also the first African American woman to have her work published in the Norton Anthology. Today, you can explore her home and garden, one of the sources of her work.
Maria Perkins Lawton
Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, Maria Perkins Lawton was integral in fighting for the rights of women and African Americans during the 1920s in New York City. During her expansive career, she worked as a newspaper reporter, was the president of the Empire State Federation of Women’s Clubs and was active in the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.
Known as the first great African American women tennis player, Althea Gibson won numerous American Tennis Association Titles throughout her career. She was also the first African American to win Wimbledon, French and U.S. titles. Though she primarily lived in New York City, she received her training to become a champion in Lynchburg, Virginia, when she trained under Walter Johnson at his private courts. While training here in Lynchburg, she also played alongside Arthur Ashe, who won three Grand Slam Championships.
Lottie Payne Stratton
Though not of any international fame, her story is just as inspiring to the LYH community. Lottie lived in a time in history where Jim Crow ruled the South. Her main career was a ticket taker for the segregated balcony in the Academy Center of the Arts, where she worked for 20 years. However, she refused to let segregation laws rob her community of joy and hope. One of the biggest acts of kindness she is known for is sneaking kids into the balcony so that they could watch movies for free all day. You can hear more about her incredible life on the Little Did They Know Podcast.
Visit their Story in LYH
The best way to learn history is to walk where it happened. Come explore their roots and the community they were apart of in LYH.