W. Lester Banks was a civil rights activist. Born in Lunenburg County, Banks served as a school principal in Halifax and Charles City counties before seeing action in the Pacific during World War II (1939–1945). Embarking on a long career to combat segregation in 1943, Banks became the first executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Virginia State Conference in 1947. Working behind the scenes, Banks played a significant role in the desegregation of Virginia schools and other public facilities. He retired in 1976 and the following year moved to California, where he died in 1986.