History in Focus

Note from the Editor:

This article references the “History in Focus” program hosted by the Department of Recreation and Parks in conjunction with two Human Resources Division: DEI and Organizational Learning and Talent Development (OLTD). The course catalog listed the following description: Each year, Henrico honors two very important dates in our nation’s history – Juneteenth and July 4th. Both represent America’s foundational values of freedom and equality. Do we celebrate our achievements or commemorate the beginning of an ongoing journey? Or can we do both? Knowing our history and the impact of events from the past is essential to understanding where we are today. As individuals with unique backgrounds, the more we acknowledge and embrace the diversity in our community, the more we progress as a society. Come join us for candid, interactive storytelling and discussion of this complex, trailblazing, and still relatively young country we all call home.


We were fortunate to host our first “History in Focus” program in March. It was quite the learning experience, and we, as facilitators, learned just as much from the attendees as we could provide them. The virtual program was very well attended and, from our perspective, a success! We were so pleased that the participants were eager for this information, and they brought up crucial points that we will incorporate into historical displays and programming moving forward. For some time now, our staff has wanted to share with co-workers and colleagues the rich insights that are found in our history, whether it is local, state, or national.

Since COVID, the extended work-from-home experience, and the period of social protest nationwide, the Division of Recreation and Parks history staff has searched for ways to use programming and dialog to help give our audiences perspective. When you can see from letters, photographs, and journals of 1918 just how deeply the Influenza Epidemic impacted Virginians, we as a community can take solace in the fact that “this too shall pass.” These words from a 13th-century Persian poet were used in a speech by President Abraham Lincoln at the close of the Civil War. History teaches us that the American journey has been and continues to be challenging and complex.

There are not always simple answers to issues we face as a society. For every story of our past that is recorded in history textbooks, there are multiple narratives that go largely unexplored and even less available to be taught in schools.

Our team believes that social and civic progress can be made through conversations about our total history, whether triumphant or tragic. Henrico County is full of stories about individuals, places, and events that have shaped our community’s growth and development and contributed to the history of the state and nation. Sharing the lesser-known stories about our collective heritage as Americans can teach us how others who don’t look like us have succeeded and endured. Our experiences shape us, and learning about the experience of others creates understanding and empathy. 

As public servants, we work daily to provide for the needs of our constituents whose life history and ancestry have shaped their worldviews. Regardless of the county division/department we represent, we must provide assistance without judgment. For those who look for historical equivalents in contemporary situations, we can see and take pride in our progress as a society. We can also see areas where we can do better. As students of history, we can also recognize essential elements of human nature that contribute to our survival. Adapting to the unexpected and the compassion to help those in need have been pervasive throughout history.

We look forward to the opportunity to participate in more classes to share the lessons of the past as we face the challenges of the future.

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Celebrating Women’s History in Henrico

Did you know last fiscal year Henrico County employed 1,988 women? That is just under half of our population. In honor of Women’s History Month this month, we encourage you to take a moment to admire the achievements of women in history, the County, and your life.

If you want to learn more about women in history, Henrico County Public Library employees have shared a list of women who inspire them. You can read their stories, join book discussions, or attend library events.

To learn about the women in our workforce, Public Relations and the office of Multicultural Community Engagement highlighted three female employees and their remarkable achievements. Watch their stories to learn more.

Henrico Happenings – Episode 31 – Sheriff Alisa Gregory

Henrico County Police SWAT Sniper N.C. Elliot

Henrico County Police Officer Heidi Rojas

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Division of the Human Resources Department also offers resources to learn about Women’s History Month on their Holidays, Heritages, and Celebrations page on SharePoint.

Regardless of how you decide to observe the month, we encourage you to start your own conversations and learn more.

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International Women’s Day

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #EmbraceEquity.

Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness about discrimination. Take action to drive gender parity.

IWD belongs to everyone, everywhere. Inclusion means all IWD action is valid.

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Highlighting Henrico’s Lesser-Known History

Note from the Editor: In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to highlight a way our employees have created to raise awareness and educate others about the lesser-known history of Henrico County, including our rich Black History. We encourage everyone to learn and recognize the enormous cultural contributions and civil rights achievements of African Americans. You can visit your local library to peruse a Black History Month-themed display in February and find related reading and research material year-round at HCPL in print and online. You may also join in with Recreation & Parks’ Black History Month programming across the county, and it’s all free!

Henrico County is well-known for its history. Whether it’s the founding of the County in 1611 or its numerous battlefields from the American Civil War, Henrico’s history is all around us. Unfortunately, the history of Henrico County’s previously underrepresented communities may not be as well-known. The Recreation & Parks Division of History, Heritage & Natural Resources is working to change that daily. During the COVID-19 shutdown of 2020, the History team sought a new way to connect with audiences who needed an outlet from the daily news of positive COVID cases. The solution was to create a Henrico History Progress newsletter along with a history Facebook page to safely engage the public from the comforts of their own homes.

The Facebook page began by posting information about Henrico County’s history. Dates, anniversaries, and commemorative events were highlighted when those dates arose each year. But as simple a format as Facebook can be, it spurned into some complex research and deep diving into amazing topics. For example, a post about the R.F.& P. Park in Glen Allen and how it came to be, became a newsletter article and a YouTube video about the history of the R.F.& P. railroad, which grew into more information about the Pullman Porters who worked the trains! Our history team also understands that history can be a weighty topic at times, so the newsletters also contain a bit of levity for readers of all ages. 

The Down on the Farm entry tells stories from the point of view of the animals from Meadow Farm. There have been entries from the cows, pigs, turkeys, and, of course, the sheep! They are as much spectators of history as we are.

Over the past three years, the history team has released seven newsletter editions. Still, one thing remains the same through them: the team remains committed to sharing the facts (and sometimes gossip) of lesser-known Henrico History. The team has recently been working very closely with the community of Bungalow City to record oral histories and scan photos and documents. Where is Bungalow City, you ask? Bungalow City is a tight-knit community of Eastern Henrico off Nine Mile Road. It was created as an alternative to the racially exclusive Highland Springs, and stories of great strength and resilience come out of this small community. 

Famed Civil Rights photographer Louis H. Draper grew up in this small community. His work features celebrities like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, and Jackie Kennedy. Still, his passion was showing everyday people in everyday moments. The team’s work with Bungalow City will be featured in an upcoming newsletter and translated into historical markers and access to archival content about the neighborhood.  

The newsletter and the Facebook page have been great resources to inform and engage the public in the History team’s programming. Whether it is lectures, children’s programs, scavenger hunts, tours, or history-focused presentations, our history team has something for everyone. Also, the team is always looking for more subject matter to cover. At times, topics arise naturally, but often they are brought to the forefront by a need from the community or their respective board members.

In addition to our programs and historic signage program, henrico.us/history/landmarks/, the County owns and operates six National Register Properties and four landmarks of early 20th-century history. Some are easily accessed or have regular visiting hours, while others are open by appointment. To inquire about a tour, please email REC-History@henrico.us.

 With support from leadership, coworkers, and peers, the work of the History Division is possible. We invite everyone to participate in our programs, tour our properties, and engage with us in the virtual world by following us on Facebook and signing up for our digital newsletter. Access past editions at henrico.us/rec/history/.


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The County Courts and Government Buildings are closed in observance of the holiday.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday that commemorates the birth, legacy and achievements of the late civil rights activist who was assassinated in 1968.   



The Origins and Practices of Martin Luther King Jr. Day | Boston Public Library (bpl.org)  

History & Culture – Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)  



MLK Day of Service (nationalservice.gov)  

5 Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day (historynet.com)  




The Promise and the Dream  

An Excerpt From Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’ : NPR  

Pioneers of Thirteen | Documenting Martin Luther King, Jr. | THIRTEEN  

50 Years on Martin Luther King Jr.   



Celebrate MLK

MLK Celebration at University of Richmond

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Epiphany Day (Three Kings Day)

Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, is a Christian feast holiday observed by Eastern and Western Christians to commemorate the visitation of the three wise men to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem.   



History of Epiphany

Three Kings Day 2022: History, 10 Facts About Epiphany And It’s Traditions

9 Things You Need to Know About Epiphany| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)  



8 Wonderful International Ways to Celebrate the Epiphany (coraevans.com)  

How to Prepare a Traditional Three Kings Day Meal | eHow  



Quebec’s Epiphany: A Nostalgic Cake Fit For Both Kings And Family : The Salt : NPR  

In Russia, Epiphany Comes With A Shockingly Cold Swim : Parallels : NPR  


We invite you to explore some of the holidays, heritages and celebrations observed throughout the month of January. As you explore, we encourage you to find unique ways to recognize the rich histories, cultures, and traditions behind these occasions while honoring your own. For a full listing of holidays and celebrations, please visit the Holidays and Celebrations page on the OLTD LEarning HUB.

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Best Practices for Creating an Inclusive Workplace During the Holiday Season

December is rich with diverse traditions, holidays, heritages, and religious observances celebrated in various cultures across the U.S. and abroad. The county has a diverse workforce, and we each bring unique backgrounds, lived experiences, and cultures that influence how we celebrate and connect with others. As we prepare for the holiday season, it is crucial to create an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for all employees to foster respect and belonging in the workplace. Below are best practices to create an inclusive workplace to support all employees during the holiday season and throughout the calendar year:  


  1. Invite feedback and input from all employees. To identify ways to be inclusive when hosting events throughout the year, ask employees from various backgrounds, identities, cultures, and who hold different religious beliefs for feedback on how they wish to celebrate the holidays. Allow teams to guide the planning and encourage employees to think inclusively about essential details such as holiday decorations, food, activities, and music selections to ensure that no one feels excluded and that events are culturally appropriate for the workplace.   


  1. Make participation in holiday functions optional. The holiday season can be stressful for employees who are not religious or hold religious beliefs that fall outside of traditional holidays observed in the United States. Some employees may not celebrate anything at all. In addition, employees who have experienced loss may find it challenging to navigate the holidays or participate in activities that remind them of loved ones. To model inclusion for all employees, make participation in workplace holiday functions optional so that employees do not feel obligated to partake if they choose not to. Consider scheduling functions during times of the year that do not overlap with specific holidays or cause scheduling conflicts for team members. 


  1. Acknowledge and show appreciation for different cultures and beliefs.Encourage your team members to share how they celebrate the holiday seasons, especially those whose cultural backgrounds may differ from yours. Be open and curious to learn by inviting questions about their native cuisines, traditions, and customs to expand your knowledge and learn something new. 


  1. Explore different cultures, traditions, and religions. The world is diverse and filled with opportunities to learn about other cultures, practices, and holiday celebrations. Encourage employees to research holidays that differ from their own or participate in community events to gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultures and communities in Henrico County and the Richmond region. For Henrico County employees, you can start your inclusion journey by exploring the county’s DEI resource page or the Multicultural Community Engagement page for year-round community events and celebrations.  


This year, we are highlighting the following holidays in December:

  • Las Posadas: December 16 – 24
  • Hanukkah (Chanukah): December 18-26
  • Kwanzaa: December 26-January 1

A complete list of December 2022 Holidays, Celebrations, Heritages, and Observances can be found on the DEI Resource Page.


  1. Be open and flexible. The holiday season can be a challenging time for employees to navigate, especially as we close out year-end responsibilities and plan for time away from the office. Extend grace to your team members during the holiday season, and be open to differing thoughts, perspectives, and feedback about whatever may be coming up for them. Be open and listen to understand how you can create a positive experience where employees feel included, valued, and heard.  


If you have ideas for inclusive ways that Henrico can highlight different holidays and cultures, please contact our DEI Division at 501-4425 or HR-DEI@henrico.us.

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