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33 years ago, Doug Wilder became the first Black governor in U.S. history

Standing in the shadows of a confederate general at the state capitol in Richmond, supporters of Governor Wilder stood with pride that day.

RICHMOND, Va. — It was a monumental day 33 years ago Friday.

Douglas Wilder was sworn in on Jan. 13, 1990, becoming the 66th governor of Virginia.

But the day would go down in history as something much bigger: Wilder became the first African American governor in United States history.

Standing in the shadows of a confederate general at the state capitol in Richmond, supporters of Gov. Wilder stood with pride that day.

Born into a segregated neighborhood in Richmond, Wilder would go on to become a Korean War veteran, an attorney, a state senator, lieutenant governor, and in 2005, Mayor of Richmond.

But it’s this day in history that remains one of his most significant accomplishments. Not just the oath of office, but the promise of hope.

“By being here today, I can see my grandchildren will have a chance to be anything they want to be,” said one inauguration attendee in 1990.

Today, Wilder is a professor of public policy at the Douglas L. Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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