RICHMOND, Va. - Stumbling across a newspaper article while conducting research for a historical highway marker, Reginald Carter got a lesson that he said was not in his history books growing up in Essex County.
The Virginia State University and University of Richmond graduate was exploring the details of a lynching in Essex.
He found proof in this 125-year-old article from a black-owned newspaper. The name of the paper was unfamiliar to him.
“I came across an article in The Richmond Planet and it piqued my interest to do research. I found that it was started by 13 freed slaves in 1882,” Carter said.
Curiosity led him to find out more about those men who started the newspaper and used their voices to fight for racial justice and civil rights.
“Because of a mandate, they were not able to teach because they were African American males and so they had to start a new profession. So, learning about their adversity, and the unity and what it must have taken to come together at that time to have something of their own, that is what’s driving me,” Carter explained.
Intrigued and inspired by John Mitchell, Jr., the editor who led The Richmond Planet for 45 years, Carter wanted to ensure the story of The Richmond Planet was told and remembered.
“It’s not often that we hear the intricate details of Black excellence. To have this newspaper here in Virginia, let alone in Richmond and not everybody knows about it, I feel it’s a disservice,” Carter said.
That is one reason why he is so passionate about pushing for a DMV license plate to honor Mitchell and The Richmond Planet.
A state senator has agreed to sponsor the plate and DMV approved the application for the standard $10 tag.
It will be $20 if a driver wanted to personalize the plate.
Carter is working with marketing firm Dream For Purpose to design the tag bearing a flexed arm which to him means strength.
“I definitely want to have strength in the license plate,” Carter said.
He has until December 2021 to collect 450 prepaid applications in order to have the tag t approved during the 2022 General Assembly session.
Carter has 50 orders so far.
To support this effort, contact Carter through RichPlanetPlate@gmail.com.
Carter said the plates will be for the personal vehicles of registered Virginia drivers only who have at least liability insurance. It won’t be available for motorcycles, souvenir plates, or commercial vehicles.