The possibility of a book about Virginia’s leading civil rights icons intrigued Margaret Edds for many years. It seemed a natural culmination of a thirty-four-year immersion in Virginia politics and government, first as a statehouse reporter and then as an editorial writer for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. A focus on racial justice threaded her career, including book-length studies involving the nation’s first popularly elected black governor, the results of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and a criminal justice system that sometimes crucified innocents. It was not until retiring in 2007, and completing a book drawn from letters to and from her mother, that opportunity and interest in Oliver Hill and Spottswood Robinson aligned. By then, both men were deceased, and Edds’ five-year research project depended heavily on archival material; interviews with family, co-workers, and acquaintances, and her own personal glimpses of the men.
Margaret Edds’ journey began with college internships at the Nashville Tennessean in the late 1960s. Born in Harlan County, KY; Edds grew up in a Nashville suburb and earned degrees from Tennessee Wesleyan College and the University of Richmond. Hill and Robinson’s birthplace, Richmond, VA, has been her home for the last thirty-eight years.