Mrs. Joyce Sanchez was born to a very strong and independent mother, Ada Virginia Casey. Joyce’s father died when she was young. Ada raised her four children in the close knitted community in the West End of Alexandria known as Seminary area.
Ada Virginia Casey raised her children to be strong, independent and leaders. Joyce took her mother’s teachings to heart and became a strong advocate for the youth. She not only prepared herself for the challenge, she exceeded in all her studies in high school as well as college. By getting her education, she prepared herself for the challenge of educating the youth in Alexandria. What she could not accomplish as a teacher, she accomplished through the many organizations that she was a member.
She always had her eyes on making the Alexandria youth the best they could be with the right educational tools.
Reverend Fields Cook was a man that was well beyond his times on politics and the constitution as it relates to Colored communities. He was not the type of person that overlooked an opportunity. He looked opportunity in the face and took advantage of it.
In 1847, Fields Cook wrote a 32-page handwritten unpublished autobiography manuscript of his life from childhood to early adulthood. In addition, since 1902 the handwritten manuscript has been at the Library of Congress. Many scholars have attributed the narrative to Fields Cook, a Richmond preacher, medical practitioner and leader of Richmond’s black community after the Civil War.
Fields Cook was born in 1817 (1814) as an enslaved person in King Williams County, Virginia. He obtained his freedom in 1853 from his master in King Williams County. He worked in Richmond as a barber. By time the Civil War started, he was a lay preacher in Richmond’s First African Baptist Church. Prior to the Civil War, he was able to purchase the freedom of his wife, children and siblings. After the Civil War, he owned property worth $2,400.
During the Civil War and after, Cook became very active in politics, as well as helping the Colored race. He worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau and he became a prominent Colored leader who helped organize a meeting in 1865 to protest the treatment of Colored soldiers. In May 1867, he was one of five colored men who was appointed to the federal grand jury that indicted the former President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis for treason. In addition, he was involved in establishing a biracial Republican party in Virginia in the late 1860s. He ran in 1869 for the U.S. Congress as an independent candidate and lost. After his unsuccessful run for Congress, he accepted a job at the Freedman’s Savings Bank in Alexandria.
His most historic accomplishment took place when he migrated to Alexandria, Virginia in 1870.