February 2, 1959 Shortly after a federal panel of judges and the Virginia Supreme Court ruled massive resistance unconstitutional, desegregation begins as African American students, under heavy police protection, enter previously all-white schools in Arlington and Norfolk.
February 3, 1882 Big Lick joins with Old Lick to form the town of Roanoke. This name is taken from the Native American word for "shell money."
February 4, 1865 Lila Hardaway Meade Valentine is born. Most famous for her work on educational reform and women's suffrage, she is the only woman honored with a memorial in Virginia's State Capitol.
February 6, 1865 Jefferson Davis appoints General Robert E. Lee as general-in-chief of all Confederate forces.
February 6, 1882 Anne Spencer, Harlem Renaissance poet, is born Annie Bethel Bannister in Henry County.
February 6, 1993 Arthur Ashe, a native Richmonder, dies from HIV complications stemming from a blood transfusion received during heart surgery. Ashe was the first African American man to win Wimbledon and devoted his life to educational and humanitarian causes after his tennis career ended.
February 9, 1864 One hundred and nine Union prisoners stage a dramatic escape, tunneling out of Richmond's Libby Prison. Confederate forces recapture nearly half the escapees while others evade the Confederates with the assistance of Union spy and Richmonder, Elizabeth Van Lew.
February 15, 1934 While performing at Harlem's Apollo Theater, Ella Fitzgerald, a native of Newport News, is discovered by a talent scout. This leads to an engagement at the Savoy Club, where she records her first record, "Love and Kisses."
February 17, 1882 Virginia governor William Cameron sets off with two steamers on a campaign to capture "foreign," or non-Virginia, oyster men who are conducting illegal dredging in the Chesapeake Bay. After firing shots, Cameron and his followers capture seven oyster boats, only one of which is not Virginian. The incident, which involved no fatalities, became known as the Oyster War of 1882.
February 20, 1960 A group of students from Virginia Union University walk into Woolworth's department store, fill the thirty-four seats at the lunch counter, and patiently wait to be served in one of Virginia's first sit-ins. Rather than serve the protestors, management closed the counter.
February 22, 1732 George Washington, first president of the United States and commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution, is born in Wakefield, Westmoreland County.
February 22, 1960 In the first mass arrest of the civil rights movement, more than thirty-five students from Virginia Union University are taken into custody during a protest at Thalhimer's department store.
February 24, 1803 In the court case Marbury v. Madison, Chief Justice John Marshall establishes the U.S. Supreme Court's right to apply judicial review and determine the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress.
February 25, 1933 Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company launches the nation's first aircraft carrier, the USS Ranger.