The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

The Honorable Mary T. Christian

Share on Social Media

Information about The Honorable Mary T. Christian

Profile image of The Honorable Mary T. Christian

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Education Professor
State Delegate

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Lamb Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
To God Be The Glory

Birthplace

Born:
8/9/1924
Birth Location:
Hampton, Virginia

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
PoliticalMakers
Occupation(s):
Education Professor
State Delegate

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Lamb Chops
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Jamaica
Favorite Quote:
To God Be The Glory

Birthplace

Born:
8/9/1924
Birth Location:
Hampton
See how The Honorable Mary T. Christian is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Educator and politician Mary Taylor Christian was born on August 9, 1924 in Hampton, Virginia. Her mother was a homemaker and her father was a businessman. In 1941 she earned her high school diploma from Phenix High School in Hampton where she was a member of the National Honor Society, basketball, drama and debate teams. After graduation she married her high school sweetheart and by the time she was 19 she was a divorced mother of two.

While working in the laundry at Hampton University she began taking typing courses and eventually landed a secretarial job at the University. She was encouraged by her mentor to further her studies and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1955. From 1955 until 1960 she worked as a teacher at Hampton city schools. During the summers she attended Columbia University, where she earned her Masters degree in Speech and Drama in 1960. In 1968 she earned her PhD from Michigan State University while working as a professor at Hampton University. In 1968 Christian helped organize a voter registration drive at Hampton which resulted in more than a thousand people registering to vote.

In 1980 she was named the Dean of Hampton's school of education. Christian was the first African American to serve on the Hampton City School Board. She worked as a campaign manager for four political candidates and in 1985 decided to take the plunge into politics herself. In 1986 she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and became the first African American since reconstruction to represent the state's 92nd district, the city of Hampton.

Christian served seven terms in the Virginia General Assembly where she championed legislation on education, healthcare and prescription drugs. Christian was among three African Americans appointed to the powerful House Appropriations Committee. She also served on the Education and Rules Committees.

Christian, affectionately known by her thousands of students as "Dr. C" is professor emeritus at Hampton University. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her community and humanitarian service.

See how The Honorable Mary T. Christian is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Mary T. Christian's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her father's personality, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her father's personality, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian recalls her father's storytelling
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian recalls how her whole neighborhood in Hampton, Virginia helped make her homecoming queen outfit
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian talks about her maternal and paternal family backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her early school experiences and childhood insecurities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian lists her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her childhood neighborhood on Lincoln Street in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her childhood aspirations and experiences at Union Elementary School in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian talks about being raised in the church
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her experience attending George P. Phenix High School in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian talks about becoming a young mother and working at Hampton Institute after graduating from Phenix High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian recalls learning about racism for the first time
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian explains how she completed her undergraduate degree at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian reflects upon being a single mother in the segregated African American communities in the 1940s and 1950s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian recalls teaching at Aberdeen Elementary School in Hampton, Virginia before attending Columbia University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her experiences studying speech and drama at Columbia University in New York, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian talks about earning her doctorate from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian recalls organizing a voter registration drive in Hampton, Virginia and the opening of the Y. H. Thomas Community Center
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes the political activism and community service of Hampton Institute students
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian talks about being the dean of Hampton Institute School of Education and Human Development
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian explains her decision to run for the Virginia General Assembly
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian talks about being elected to the Virginia General Assembly as an independent
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her experiences in the Virginia General Assembly
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian talks about successfully sponsoring a bill requiring insurance companies to pay for bone marrow transplants
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian talks about white teachers' expectations of African American students
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian explains why she thinks history is important
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian talks about the Virginia's government under Governor Mark Warner
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Mary T. Christian narrates her photographs