The state is seeking ideas from students for new historical markers honoring Virginia’s rich and varied African-American history.

Gov. Ralph Northam recently launched the Black History Monty Historical Marker Contest, inviting nominations to teach a more inclusive history along roadways.

“Black history is American history,” the governor said in a statement. “But for too long, we have told an inaccurate and simplified version of that history that did not include everyone. This competition is one new way to help tell a more true and inclusive story of our shared past.”

Since 1927, more than 2,600 historic roadway markers have been erected in Virginia, including 350 honoring African-Americans.

Students can log on to the contest site at education.virginia.gov/bhm-marker-contest/ to nominate more markers acknowledging black history. The deadline for nominations is March 6.

The site also includes a lesson plan and classroom activity guide to help teachers and administrators navigate related discussions thoughtfully and inclusively, according to the governor’s news release announcing the contest. Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Janice Underwood created the lesson plan.

“Since even before the time of slavery, stories of incredible African-Americans have frequently been ignored, even silenced,” she said. “This contest is a great opportunity for students, teachers and families to learn about black history more deeply, and foster a sense of critical consciousness wherein our students contribute ideas in pursuit of remedying the disparities of African American historical markers in Virginia.”

The Department of Historic Resources will submit the top 10 contest submission and the governor’s office will pick the winners.

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