Dr. Latorial Faison, KeyNote Speaker

Dr. Latorial Faison is a twenty-eight-year military spouse married to COL (Retired US Army) Carl J. Faison. They have three sons. Dr. Faison is a poet, author, educator, and independent scholar who currently serves as Assistant Professor on the teaching faculty at Virginia State University, one of the nation’s premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Faison, a Southampton County, Virginia native, completed a BA in English Literature & Religious Studies at the University of Virginia and a Master’s in English Literature at VA TECH. She completed doctoral studies in Education at Virginia State University. Dr. Faison is a 2023 recipient of the VA Humanities Fellowship for research.

Dr. Faison is a published author whose writing and research explore the African American experience, and the intersections of race, culture, and identity intersect. She is an award-winning poet, a James Madison University Furious Flower Poetry Center Fellow, and a Pushcart nominee whose poetry and creative nonfiction works have been published and anthologized widely in literary magazines, journals, school curriculums, and news outlets including the Department of Defense, STARS & STRIPES, Artemis Journal, PRAIRIE SCHOONER, Penumbra, West Trestle Review, Deep South Magazine, Obsidian: Literature & Art in the African Diaspora, Southern Women’s Review, Virginia’s Best Emerging Poets, and Southern Poetry Anthology. Dr. Faison is a National Military Family Association Scholar, Tom Howard Poetry Prize winner, and a semi-finalist for the CAVE CANEM, HUDSON, WHEELER & STEVENSON Poetry prizes.

She is the author and/or editor of 15 books, including the Amazon Kindle best-selling trilogy, 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History, LOVE POEMS, I Am Woman, flesh, Secrets of My Soul, Immaculate Perceptions, Kendall’s Golf Lesson, and 100 Poems You Can Write. Most recently, Faison published The Missed Education of the Negro: An Examination of the Black Segregated Experience in Southampton County, VA 1950-1970. Dr. Faison is a member of the Wintergreen Women Writers Collectives, the Blue Ridge Writers Collective, and a Life Member of the Poetry Society of Virginia.

Phone: 757.653.5626

VIA Story

The Virginia Interscholastic Association (VIA) was an organization of African American high schools created in 1954 through the efforts of African American secondary school principals and administrators with operational funds from the Virginia General Assembly. The organization provided enriching opportunities and activities to African American high schools that were otherwise inaccessible due to racial, social and economic barriers. The VIA provided a wide range of exceptional activities such as athletics, arts, academic competitions and student associations during a time of segregation. Virginia State University acted as the host institution and provided staff for operations through the Field Service Division. They also served as the main location of athletic activities. In this role, Virginia State University provided the training and development for the directors and coaches who ran the extracurricular programs. Academic activities such as Science and Math competitions alternated between Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, Hampton University and St. Paul’s College. The collaboration between the VIA, Virginia State University as well as other Virginia African American universities, provided students with opportunities for higher education through enrollment and grant aid programs.

The VIA is also a story about a vision for a society where African American high school students were acknowledged for their intelligence, creative skills and athletic abilities. Virginia State University was not only the institutional body that held the VIA together, but also the epicenter of African American culture at this time. The VIA was very beneficial for students, but also helped the relationship between African American institutions of higher education, parents and community members. The organization lasted until 1969 when it was dissolved due to integration. Upon being defunded the program was merged with the VHSL (Virginia High School League).

The website aims to present and document the archived materials of the VIA. The site also serves to capture an educational moment in African American history. Ultimately, we hope the website is able to present the many aspects that have been encapsulated by the VIA as an educational and cultural project.

Contributions to The VIA Heritage Association are tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.