Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax was in England last week (May 23) as part of a delegation from Fairfax County and the City of Fairfax meeting with members of the Lord Fairfax family who are descendants of the namesake for the County and the City.
For the Lt. Governor, this journey is also personal. His last name also derives from the Lord Fairfax family. It was the 9th Lord Fairfax — Thomas — who freed Simon Fairfax from slavery in 1798. Thomas Fairfax was also a close friend of George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army that freed the United States from British rule.
Thus, this is the story of how the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, an African American man who is second in command of what was once the capital of the Confederacy, traces the twin threads woven throughout Virginia’s 400 years of history — the birthplace of legislative government in the western hemisphere and the place where the first enslaved Africans were brought to America at Point Comfort in Hampton.
He also continues exploring the unique contribution of the Lord Fairfax family to the ultimate abolition of slavery in the United States and the ways in which Simon Fairfax and his descendants have in each generation contributed to the economic, spiritual, and political vibrancy of the Commonwealth. By meeting the descendants of the family who once enslaved his own – and who still share a surname — he hopes to remind us all of the opportunities for remembrance, reconciliation, and progress.
There are many twists and turns in this story about the surprising history of these two families and Fairfax County and City, suburbs of Washington, D.C. Fairfax County is among the largest and most prosperous counties in the nation. This trip comes against the backdrop of the 400th anniversary of both the meeting of Virginia’s first legislative body and enslaved Africans brought to Virginia. It also comes at a time of heightened race-related issues.
Lt. Governor Fairfax is being joined by his family in Great Britain as well, to share in this momentous experience. His children are now at an age when they can appreciate the significance of this occasion and remember it for the rest of their lives. He and his wife have high hopes that they will carry on the historic nature of the Fairfax legacy.
The Lieutenant Governor will be sharing photos and descriptions of some of the many stops on the trip, including a visit to Sulgrave Manor, the ancestral home of George Washington. The trip ended with Mr. Fairfax meeting Nicholas, the 14th Lord Fairfax and his wife Annabel.
For more, ollow the Lieutenant Governor on social media at: Twitter @FairfaxJustin, #FairfaxLegacies, #FairfaxinUK.