J. Thomas Newsome (1869-1942), raised in Sussex County, was one of Newport News' most respected black civic leaders. Newsome attended Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institution (now Virginia State University), graduating in 1899 from Howard University's law school as class valedictorian.
Newsome began his own law practice in Newport News, becoming one of the first black lawyers to practice before the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in 1913.
Newsome was key to the establishment of Trinity Baptist Church, Huntington High School, and the Colored Voters League of Warwick County, and served as editor of Newport News' black newspaper, the "Newport News Star".
The Newsome Home, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, is now operated by the Newsome House Museum and Cultural Center, formed to restore the structure for use as a community center and museum focusing on the black history of Newport News and the life of J. Thomas Newsome.