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Lieutenant Colonel Samuel C. Armstrong, born in 1839 to missionary parents in Hawaii, was assigned to the Ninth Regiment, United States Colored Troops.


In the shadows of a burned-out Richmond, just five months after the fall of the Confederate States of America, the Freedman’s Bureau founded the first free schools for the recently freed African American children of Richmond. At first, the teaching was done at four churches and Dill’s Bakery, located at the corner of St. James and Clay Streets. White female teachers from the North joined the superintendent of the schools, Union army chaplain Rabza Morse Manley, as children were taught during the day and adults at night.

JULY 17, 1867

Maggie Lena Walker was born to Elizabeth Draper, a former assistant cook in the Church Hill home of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Unionist who ran a spy ring in the shadow of the Confederate capitol building. Walker’s father was Eccles Cuthbert, an Irish-born newspaperman and abolitionist.


SEPTEMBER 17, 1867

The Richmond Colored High School and Normal School, located at the corner of Sixth and Duval Streets, was dedicated. Manley was named the principal, and the teachers remained northern white women.



Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute was founded by Armstrong, who, since 1866, had been supervising the establishment of freedmen schools in eastern Virginia.

APRIL 1873

Having outgrown the building at Sixth and Duval, the Richmond Colored High School and Normal School relocated to a newly erected building at the end of Twelfth Street and opened with a student body of 113 pupils.

NOVEMBER 2, 1903

Maggie Walker opened the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, the first bank owned and operated by African Americans.

MAY 11, 1893

Samuel Armstrong died and was buried at the Hampton Institute campus cemetery.


After the Twelfth Street building was condemned in 1908, and after a year housed in the Baker Street School building, the Richmond Colored High School and Normal School moved to the corner of First and Leigh Streets and was renamed Armstrong High School in honor of Samuel Armstrong.


Due to an expanding student body, Armstrong High School was forced to relocate again and moved to Prentis and Leigh Streets.

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DECEMBER 15, 1934

Maggie Lena Walker died and was buried at Richmond’s Evergreen Cemetery.


The Richmond City School Board voted to open a second African American high school providing a vocational and industrial education.


The doors of Maggie L. Walker High School were opened.

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