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Sun, 12.08.1861

Lucy Addison, Teacher born

Lucy Addison

*Lucy Addison was born on this date in 1861.  She was a Black school teacher and principal.  

Lucy Addison was born in Upperville, Virginia to Charles Addison and Elizabeth Anderson Addison, both of whom were slaves. She was the third child born to the couple and the second daughter. After her family was emancipated her father purchased farmland in Fauquier County and Addison began attending school. She later traveled to Philadelphia to attend the Institute for Colored Youth and graduated with a teaching degree in 1882. Addison kept her skills current by attending continuing education classes at schools, including Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania.

She later served in several supervisory positions, including as a member of the board of trustees for the Burrell Memorial Hospital.  Shortly after receiving her degree, Addison returned to Virginia and began teaching in Loudoun County. In 1886, she moved to Roanoke, Virginia to teach at the First Ward Colored School. The following year Addison began serving as an interim administrator following the death of the school's principal. She continued as such until 1888, when a new school was built, and a male principal hired.  Addison then served for more than a decade as both a teacher and an assistant principal for the school.  

In 1917 Addison was hired to serve as the principal for the Harrison School, a school for Blacks.  Although the school was only accredited to teach up to the eighth grade, Addison expanded the curriculum to include high school level classes while also continually lobbying Virginia State Board of Education for full accreditation. Her work came to fruition in 1924, when the Board granted the school full accreditation and the school graduated several students with a high school diploma.  

Addison retired in 1927 and moved to Washington, D.C. to live with one of her sisters, but returned to Virginia for several occasions, including the naming of Roanoke's first public high school for Blacks in her honor.  Addison suffered from chronic nephritis and died in Washington, D.C. on November 13, 1937. She was buried in Columbian Harmony Cemetery. In 1970 her remains were re-interred when the cemetery was moved to Maryland to become part of National Harmony Memorial Park.  

In the 1970s the school was almost closed and turned into a vocational school, as Roanoke's desegregation plans proposed busing pupils into neighboring areas. However, U.S. District Judge Ted Dalton ordered the school remain open.  In 1973 the school was restructured and became the Lucy Addison Junior High School, which was later renamed the Lucy Addison Middle School.  In 2011 Addison was honored as one of the Library of Virginia's "Virginia Women in History" for her contributions to education. 

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