Virtual symposium to commemorate 30th anniversary of Gov. L. Douglas Wilder’s inauguration

The daylong event, “Honoring L. Douglas Wilder: Continuing 30 years of history, then and now,” will be held Sept. 17.

L. Douglas Wilder takes the oath of office during his 1990 inauguration.
L. Douglas Wilder became the first elected African American governor in the United States when he was inaugurated as Virginia's governor in 1990. (Courtesy photo)

By Tiffany Murray-Robertson
Interim Director of Communications, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University
Phone: (315) 558-1700 (mobile)

By Pamela Cox
Press Secretary, Office of the President
Virginia Union University                                             
Phone: (804) 937-7936 (mobile)

The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, in partnership with Virginia Union University, will host a daylong virtual leadership symposium on Sept. 17 honoring the legacy of L. Douglas Wilder, the 66th governor of Virginia and the country’s first elected African American governor. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Wilder’s inauguration.

L. Douglas Wilder speaking at a lectern.
The virtual symposium, which is free of charge to attend, will feature lectures, panel discussions and a keynote address by Wilder. (Courtesy photo)

The virtual symposium, which is free of charge to attend, will feature lectures, panel discussions and a keynote address by Wilder. A morning panel on judicial and legislative history will include Judge Roger Gregory, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, and an afternoon panel examining the 2020 election will feature invited guest former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and will be moderated by Larry Sabato, Ph.D., political analyst and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. 

“We are excited to create this daylong celebration of the impact of Governor Wilder’s election, the accomplishments of his administration, and the continuation of his legacy,” said Susan T. Gooden, Ph.D., dean of the Wilder School.

“Governor Wilder is a treasured alumnus of Virginia Union University and we are proud to help celebrate this shining moment in history,” said Hakim Lucas, Ph.D., president and CEO of Virginia Union University.

The community, students and faculty are invited to attend the virtual symposium. To learn more about the event and to register, please go to

More about L. Douglas Wilder: 

Wilder returned to elective office in 2005, when he became the first directly elected mayor of Richmond in over a half century, winning every precinct. Since leaving office in 2009, he has worked as a distinguished professor at the Wilder School where he lectures and hosts symposia, including the most recent, "Race in Academia." He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NAACP’s prestigious Spingarn Medal, has been awarded 34 honorary degrees and citations of the highest order, e.g. Veterans of Foreign Wars, life member of several government and public service organizations, the author of “Son of Virginia: A Life in America’s Political Arena,” and a spokesperson on current issues – national, state and local.

About the VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Ranked No. 45 among 275 graduate schools of public affairs by U.S. News & World Report and No. 39 in Public Management & Leadership, the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University advances excellence in governance and promotes evidence-based public policy in Virginia and beyond. The school offers an array of graduate, post baccalaureate and doctoral programs in virtually every policy area including criminal justice, homeland security and emergency preparedness, public administration, public policy and administration, and urban and regional studies and planning. Additionally, the Wilder School is home to a robust Center for Public Policy that provides applied research in the areas of state and local government, social equity and leadership and a range of services to clients in state and local government, nonprofit organizations, businesses and the general public. Learn more at

About Virginia Union University

Virginia Union University is a premier liberal arts urban institution of higher education and center of excellence for the preparation of students and the development of leaders for tomorrow’s world. It was founded in 1865 to give newly emancipated slaves an opportunity for education and advancement. Virginia Union University offers a broad range of educational opportunities that advance liberal arts education, teaching, research, science, technology, continuing education, civic engagement and international experiences. Visit for more information.