On the corner of East Duval and North Fifth Street, city leaders and members of the Richmond Fire Department gathered for a ceremony celebrating the 71st hiring anniversary of the first Black career firefighters in the city.
Out of 500 applicants, ten men were chosen to serve for the fire department under Engine Company No. 9 on July 1, 1950. They would go on to be the first Black career firefighters in Richmond and Virginia.
Friends and family of these ten men, including Pat Whitfield, came up to the podium to share their memories about their impact.
“I was three years old when my dad got inducted into the fire department,” Whitfield said. Pat Whitfield’s father, Arthur L. Page, was one of the ten men hired for the job.
“He earned positions, but I remember him getting turned away,” she said. “Not because of the content of his character, but because of the color of his skin.”