Black History Month Salute to Dunbar H.S. Principal James W. Mozee

Last fall at Old City Cemetery’s annual Candlelight Tours, OCC featured several people who are buried at OCC, including the second black principal of Dunbar High School, James W. Mozee (1862-1941), as portrayed by Dee Brown.  Tour attendees were surprised and saddened to find that there was no gravestone for Mozee in his family plot next to the stone of his wife, Lelia Perkins Mozee, and close to the Pathway to Pride.   Several guests said they would donate to a campaign to raise funds for Mozee’s gravestone.  In response to visitor requests, OCC will be holding a special event to honor Mozee’s life and raise funds for his gravestone on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 9:30am at the Pathway to Pride (rain location: Cemetery’s Bicentennial Chapel).     

We invite you to join us and register for a special Salute to Mozee on February 19 at 9:30am when OCC will feature educator Jennifer Petticolas speaking about Mozee’s contributions to Lynchburg’s African American community, plus a repeat portrayal of Mozee by Dee Brown, and attend a reception given in Principal Mozee’s memory.  Admission is $10/person and all proceeds will be used to purchase a gravestone for Mozee. The event will last about 35 minutes.

You may register for the event here and you may also make a separate donation online at and click “donate” at the top of the home page. After you enter the gift amount online, click on the link Special Instructions and type: “Mozee gravestone”.     

Mozee was born into slavery in 1862. From 1880 to 1882, he attended university at the Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City, Missouri, and finished his course of study in 1887. The first five years of his career were spent as a school principal in Liberty, Missouri. For 47 years hence, he served as an educator and faithfully served Lynchburg’s African American community for 31 of those years. Mozee was principal of Dunbar High School throughout the 1930s.

Supporting images are attached to this e-mail. The caption for the images would read: (L-R) Jennifer Petticolas, James W. Mozee, Dee Brown

The estimated cost of the marker will be $1,000. The proposed text for James W. Mozee marker:

James William Mozee

Husband of Lelia Perkins Mozee

Born –c. June 8, 1862, Platte County., MO

Died – July 26, 1941, Lynchburg, VA

Lifelong educator:  school principal (1887-1902), Liberty, MO;

teacher at R.S. Payne School (1909-22) & Dunbar High School (1923-30);

second black principal (1930-39), Dunbar High School.

Marker given by the grateful citizens of Lynchburg, VA in 2022