HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — The first African-American and first woman from Hampton to be elected to the Virginia state legislature post-Reconstruction has passed away.
Dr. Mary T. Christian died Monday at age 95 after a lifetime of community and legislative involvement. She was on the Hampton School Board, served as dean of Hampton University and held nine straight terms as a delegate for the 92nd District.
Virginia House Democrats released a statement stating they are saddened to hear of the passing of the former delegate.
“Virginia has suffered a great loss,” said Speaker-designee Eileen Filler-Corn. “Mary Christian was a trailblazer for women, and her work in the House of Delegates is an inspiration to me personally and to so many across the Commonwealth.”
“During her seven terms in the House of Delegates, Mary Christian made history as the first black woman to hold so many of her positions, as well as a champion of groundbreaking legislation,” said House Majority Leader-elect Charniele Herring. “Dr. Christian was instrumental in increasing Black women’s leadership and participation in Virginia’s government, and she was a model of steady and sure leadership.”
Congressman Bobby Scott, 3rd Congressional District of Virginia, issued the following statement on the passing of former Delegate Mary T. Christian:
“I was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Mary Christian. As an educator, the first black woman to serve on the Hampton School Board, and a longtime member of the House of Delegates, Dr. C. was a pillar of the Hampton community. She dedicated her life and career in service to others and was a powerful voice for the voiceless. During her time in the House of Delegates, she was known as a champion for education. As one of the few African Americans to be appointed to the influential House Appropriations Committee, Dr. C. worked to ensure that our schools and universities were well funded. I will personally miss her counsel, mentorship and friendship. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and the countless lives impacted by her life’s work.”
President of the Hampton Branch NAACP, Gaylene Kanoyton, sent a statement:
“On behalf of the Hampton Branch NAACP, I want to express our deepest sympathy to the family of The Honorable Dr. Mary T. Christian. As a Delegate, an educator and an ardent public servant, Dr. Christian set the bar high when it came to ensuring that everyone, regardless of race, gender or religion, was regarded with respect and dignity. She was a valuable Life Member and a strong supporter of our NAACP organization and served as a great example for our youth. She will surely be missed by all.”
Hampton School Board Chair Ann Stephens Cherry on the passing of Dr. Mary T. Christian:
“On behalf of the Hampton School Board, we extend our sincere condolences on the passing of former Hampton School Board member and highly respected educator, the Honorable Dr. Mary T. Christian. She will be remembered for a legacy that consisted of values, integrity and equality. Her passing most certainly leaves a void not only in our community, but in the public education arena as well.”
Hampton University also sent out a statement mourning the loss of its alumna.
“Dr. Christian has always been an outstanding lady, colleague, academician, administrator, leader, alumna, legislator and friend. She was loyal and supportive of Hampton University, her alma mater, up until the very end,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey. “I will personally miss this kind-hearted, effective and productive lady.”