CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Anna Evans Gilmer will present “African American Life: A Personal Perspective” in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The program, which kicks off the 2018 Block Speaker Series, will begin at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Gilmer, a Charleston native, was the fourth of eight children born to the late William H. and Ollie Brown Evans. She attended Boyd Grade and Junior High schools and Garnet High School, where she was Valedictorian in mid-year 1942 and editor of the school newspaper The Eye. She went on to graduate from Bluefield State College in 1946 and complete post graduate work at West Virginia State College and the College of Graduate Studies for certification and enrichment. Gilmer taught English for six years at Sissonville High School, three years at Carver Career Center and substituted for ten years. She and her late husband of 58 years, Reverend Paul Gilmer Sr., are the parents of five children, Paul Jr., Rodney, Vikki Gilmer-Bayes, Reverend Charles and Janet Gilmer-Rowser. She has 21 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.

With James Randall, Gilmer co-authored Black Past, a record of area businesses, schools, churches and organizations in the Kanawha Valley. She researched and wrote some of the entries for the West Virginia Women’s Commission book A Sampling of West Virginia African American Women of Distinction. In addition, she was charter member of the Henry Highland Garnet Foundation and an advisor in preserving the African Zion Baptist Church and reconstructing Booker T. Washington’s boyhood cabin in Malden. A West Virginia History Hero, Gilmer also is the recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. State Holiday Commission Living the Dream Award, the West Virginia Women’s Commission Unsung Hero Award and the West Virginia Black Schools Sports/Academic Hall of Fame Historian and Legend Award.

“The Block” was once considered the heart of Charleston’s black community. It comprised a 25-acre area bounded by Washington Street East, Capitol Street, Smith Street and Sentz Court.

For additional information about the Archives and History lecture series, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.

Patrons may park behind the Culture Center after 5 p.m. on May 31 and enter the building at the back loading dock area. The bus turnaround is open, and handicapped spots are available there. Visitors parking there should enter at the front of the building.