Dr. Mary T. Christian

Dr. Mary T. Christian's Portrait

Dr. Mary T. Christian
07/09/1924 - 11/11/2019

Dr. Mary Taylor Christian was born July 9, 1924 in Hampton, Virginia. She was the second of five children to parents John and Viola Robinson. In 1955, she married Wilbur "Chuck" Christian. Together, they had two daughters and a son.

Young Mary attended Union School and in 1941 she graduated from Phenix High School which was on the campus of Hampton Institute (later becoming Hampton University). She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Hampton Institute in 1955 with Highest Honors in Elementary Education. She earned a Masters of Arts degree in Speech and Drama from Columbia University in 1960. She earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1967 with a major in Elementary Education and cognate in Special Education.

She came from very humble beginnings. After high school, started her career working in the campus laundry while taking undergraduate courses at Hampton Institute. Young Mary was ironing the very clothes of the students who sat next to her in classes. She progressed in her education, and eventually became Dean of the School of Education at Hampton University, where she remained until her retirement.

Dr. Christian was fiercely dedicated to her community. While she was always a servant and local volunteer, she saw an opportunity to make an even greater impact. She was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates where she became the first African American woman to represent Virginia’s 92nd District since reconstruction. During her nine consecutive terms, she introduced legislation that paved the way for better education, healthcare, and other pressing issues that were important to her constituents.

Dr. Christian used her voice to champion change. She was a champion of education, believing education was a universal right of all children. She was a champion of equality and fought for everyone to be treated with dignity and respect in all aspects of their lives. She was a champion of healthcare, developing policies and expanding access to care for all people. Most importantly, she was a champion of love.

Dr. Christian was well respected and received numerous honors for her works, not only within the Hampton community but nationally as well. Naming the Mary T. Christian Elementary School in her honor is a great testament to her commitment to education and her community. Virginia Peninsula Community College (formerly Thomas Nelson Community College) dedicated a performing arts building, The Mary T. Christian Auditorium, in her honor. The Hampton Peninsula Town Center dedicated Mary's Park in 2008. A trail was named after her at the YH Thomas Community Center that she helped establish. Dr. Christian dedicated her whole life to making this world a much better place and we are so proud to have her name on our school.