March 1, 2016 CONTACT: Sean Brickell, APR, Fellow PRSA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
L. DOUGLAS WILDER
INDUCTED INTO VIRGINIA LEGENDS WALK
Received Most Votes on Ballots Returned
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - L. Douglas Wilder, the nation's first elected African-American Governor, received more votes among all other nominations for induction into Virginia Legends Walk in 2016.
"Wilder was chosen on 41 percent of ballots. He consistently has been in the Top Five voter-getters annually," said Nemo Larmore of KPMG, the independent firm that collects and tabulates all ballots.
Wilder was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1931.
Wilder served as the 66th Governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1994. When earlier elected as Lieutenant Governor, he was the first African American elected to statewide office in Virginia. Wilder won the office by less than half a percent. The narrow victory margin prompted a recount, which reaffirmed Wilder's election. He was sworn in on January 13, 1990 by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr.. In recognition of his landmark achievement as the first African-American elected governor in the nation, the NAACP awarded Wilder the Spingarn Medal for 1990.
During his tenure as governor, Wilder worked on crime and gun control initiatives. He also worked to fund Virginia's transportation initiatives, effectively lobbying Congress to reallocate highway monies to those states with the greatest needs. Much residential and office development had taken place in Northern Virginia without the state's receiving sufficient federal money for infrastructure improvements to keep up. He also succeeded in passing state bond issues to support improving transportation. In May 1990 Wilder ordered state agencies and universities to divest themselves of any investments in South Africa because of its then policy of apartheid, making Virginia the first Southern state to take such action.
Wilder was among 38 eligible Virginians qualified this year for Virginia Legends Walk. Hundreds of nominations from around the world were submitted. Ballots were sent to a statewide network of almost 1,300 judges, including college and university presidents, heads of historical societies and museums, history professors, librarians, news media representatives and Virginia Beach Public School teachers.
All voting went directly to the auditing firm of KPMG, Hampton Roads for independent tally.
The Top Five runners-up in this year's election included multi-Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter/musician Dave Matthews (39 percent), Academy Award winning actress Sandra Bullock (38 percent), American Revolution patriot Light Horse Harry Lee (38 percent), first female to found a bank in the U.S. Maggie Walker (38 percent) and and father of modern oceanography Matthew Fontaine Maury (37 percent).
Rounding out the Top Ten were Dred Scott (35 percent); George C. Scott (32 percent); Dr. Ralph Stanley (32 percent); "Jeb" Stuart (31 percent); and civil rights champion Nat Turner (31 percent).
Virginia Beach officials estimate that millions of resort visitors and area residents have toured Virginia Legends Walk since its introduction. The Walk was created as a free, permanent living monument to honor great Virginians and is located one block from the Virginia Beach oceanfront at 13th Street.
Virginia Legends Walk has eight U.S. Presidents (from George Washington to Woodrow Wilson), five celebrated generals, nine internationally known musicians, and other key historical figures from the Commonwealth.
A complete list and bios of those honored in Virginia Legends Walk can be found online at www.va-legends.com. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2013 candidates by completing the online application (also at www.va-legends.com) or by calling 800.333.6397.
Virginia Legends Walk honors Virginians, by birth or residence, who have made significant contributions to the nation and the world.