Keeper of the Light: Willis Augustus Hodges at Cape Henry Lighthouse

Feb 2, 2022

12:00 pm — 1:30 pm

Keeper of the Light: Willis Augustus Hodges...“and for myself, I have ever striven to be found upon the side of freedom and justice.”

Willis Augustus Hodges (1815-1890) served as the keeper of the Cape Henry Lighthouse for just over two months during the summer of 1870. However, his impact reached far beyond the lighthouse.

The path Hodges took to become Cape Henry’s first African American lighthouse keeper brought him to New York and back to Virginia. He crossed paths with the noted abolitionist John Brown, guided individuals on their escape from slavery through the Underground Railroad, and won multiple elected positions. Through his own writings, Hodges detailed the daily life in the Virginia Beach area for free Black people as well as the acts of resistance that he and many others waged before and after the abolition of slavery.

Join historian and Hodges descendant, Sandi Brewster-Walker, and local historian, Edna Hendrix, in an exploration of the life of Willis Augustus Hodges, Cape Henry’s first African American lighthouse keeper.

This virtual program is free, though a suggested donation of $10 is appreciated.


Sandi Brewster-Walker
She is an independent historian, genealogist, freelance writer, and business owner. As a member of the Montaukett Indian Nation, she is the Executive Director & Government Affairs Officer for historic tribe, and chair of the Board of Trustees & Executive Director of the Indigenous People Museum & Research Institute. During President William Jefferson Clinton’s Administration, as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES), she served as Deputy Director of the Office of Communications at USDA, as well as, Director of the Empowerment Zone & Enterprise Community initiative. Brewster-Walker servers on numerous Boards of Trustees and has received many awards.
Edna Hendrix
Edna Hawkins Hendrix is an author and local historian who has made considerable contributions in chronicling the history of people of color in Princess Anne County (now Virginia Beach, Virginia). Each year Hendrix gives presentations on local black history, and the civil rights struggle to school children, family reunions, church, and civic groups. Ms. Hendrix has earned numerous accolades and awards for her community work. She is currently is a board member and historian for the Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni and Friends Association, Inc., and has served on other related boards.




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