Black History Month program honors Vermont’s first Black sheriff

Published: Feb. 20, 2022 at 11:31 AM EST
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VERGENNES, Vt. (WCAX) - The Bixby Memorial Library in Vergennes is hosting a virtual Black History Month program this upcoming weekend about the life and legacy of the first-known Black sheriff in Vermont.

It’s called “Stephen Bates: From Slave to Sheriff.”

Bates was born into slavery in 1842 on Virginia’s Shirley Plantation. Fourteen years after the Civil War ended, he was elected sheriff of Vergennes. Bates held that position for two decades.

Laksamee Cave, the adult services librarian at the Bixby Memorial Free Library, says librarians and the research team want more Vermonters to know about Bates’ legacy and realize how rich Vermont’s Black history is.

“We always are trying to connect our community to a lot of our local history and Stephen Bates is a really amazing part of our local history,” Cave said. “So, the library, along with the research team, has a web page and a growing online collection of information on Stephen Bates to continue to make it available and to continue to remember this important part of our history.”

The program is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 26 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. It will be held on Zoom. Click here for more details.

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