Ideas, Passion and Perseverance.
Virginia State University was founded on March 6, 1882, when the legislature passed a bill to charter the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. The bill was sponsored by Delegate Alfred W. Harris, a Black attorney whose offices were in Petersburg, but lived in and represented Dinwiddie County in the General Assembly.
The first person to bear the title of president, John Mercer Langston, was a well-known African-American of his day. Until 1992, he was the only African-American elected to the United States Congress from Virginia (elected in 1888); and he was the great-uncle of the famed writer Langston Hughes.