Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan Proposes Bill To Name Petersburg Post Office After VSU's First President

Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan Proposes Bill To Name Petersburg Post Office After VSU's First President

The post office would be renamed the John Mercer Langston Post Office Building if passed.

Virginia State University is pleased to announce that Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan has proposed a bill to rename the Petersburg post office located at 29 Franklin Street after the University’s first president, John Mercer Langston. On Monday, February 26, an event was held outside of Langston Hall on the VSU campus to announce the bill, with remarks from university officials, Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham, and Congresswoman McClellan.

"We are deeply honored by Congresswoman McClellan's introduction of H.R. 7385, a bill that honors John Mercer Langston, a visionary leader whose contributions continue to shape our university and inspire generations of students," said Dr. Tia Minnis, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. "Renaming the Petersburg Post Office is a fitting tribute to Langston's profound influence and serves as a testament to his enduring legacy."

McClellan stated that her goal was to honor Langston's significant contributions to education and civil rights. Not only was Langston a prominent figure in VSU's history, but he was also a trailblazer in Virginia history, serving as the state’s first African American member of Congress.

Langston’s political contributions profoundly impacted McClellan, who, in 2023, became the first Black woman elected to Congress from Virginia. McClellan represents Virginia's fourth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, the same seat Langston held from 1890 to 1891.

“John Mercer Langston broke barriers and redefined what was possible for Black Virginians in the late 19th century. He was an abolitionist, attorney, diplomat, voting rights advocate, educational administrator, community leader, and the first Black man to represent Virginia in Congress,” said McClellan. “Mr. Langston had a profound impact on the Petersburg community as President of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute – what is now VSU. I used to come with my parents to this post office as a kid – hopefully soon, another kid coming to this post office will see John Mercer Langston’s name and want to learn more about him. As the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress, I stand on John Mercer Langston’s shoulders. I am honored to lead this effort to recognize his important contributions to our community, Commonwealth, and country.”

VSU was honored to welcome Congresswoman McClellan to campus and is grateful for her dedication to joining the University's efforts to commemorate Langston's legacy.

In 2021, VSU established the John Mercer Langston Institute to strengthen African American political leadership in the Commonwealth of Virginia through innovative training, policy collection and assistance, programming and research, and networking. The Institute is open to students and all African Americans in Virginia interested in becoming more active in public service.