Black History Landmarks in Hampton Roads
February marks Black History Month across the country. Here in Hampton Roads you can visit landmarks throughout the area. Many of these historical sites tell stories of determination and strength in overcoming social injustices and leave a lasting impression for generations to come.
James Fields House - 617 27th Street
James Fields was born into slavery but escaped during the civil war. He ran his law practice out of his home and also allowed 4 doctors to use the 4th floor as a clinic, so the community would have a safe place to receive medical care.
Newsome House museum and Cultural Center- 2803 Oak Avenue J.
Thomas J .Newsome was many things a respected attorney, journalist, churchman and civic leader . He served the community with dedication and fought against many social injustices faced by the African American community at the time. His home today serves as a museum and cultural center that is a lasting memorial to an inspiring figure in African American history.
Aberdeen Gardens Historic District – 57 Mary Peak Boulevard
In 1934 the process of building and planning Aberdeen Gardens, “ a neighborhood built by blacks for blacks”, began. This neighborhood was the first of its kind planned, built, and managed totally by African Americans. When it was completed. 154 homes were built on half acre lots. A greenbelt was left for community farming and live stock, making the neighborhood self sustaining. 70 years later the homes still stand where many of them house relatives of the original inhabitants. The community continues to work together to maintain the history of the neighborhood.
Hampton University and Hampton University Museum
The University is more than a historically black college: it is the sight of many triumphs for the African American community. The Emancipation Oak stands proudly today on the university grounds and was where the first southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation was held. The Hampton University Museum is the oldest African American Museum in the country and one of the oldest in Virginia. The museum houses over 9,000 objects.
Some notable Alumni:
• Booker T. Washington
• Samuel Chapman Armstrong
• Alberta Williams King
There are many more that can be found here.
Little England Chapel – 4100 Kecoughtan Road
The Chapel was built in 1879 and is the only known African American missionary chapel in Virginia. Today you can visit the chapel to glance into the lives of the post civil war congregation.
J. J. Moore Visitor, Archives & Family Life Center - 2216 Long Ridge Road
The only visitor center in the Commonwealth of Virginia with an Afro-Union and Afro-Virginian repository theme.
The West Point Marker, African American Civil War Memorial
The monument depicts Sergeant William H. Carney, a Norfolk native who, while badly wounded, saved the US flag from capture. He was one of the first black soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor. It is a lasting tribute to those brave men who fought and died for freedom.
Attucks Theatre - 1010 Church Street
Opened in 1919, it is one of the only theaters in Virginia to be financed, designed, and built exclusively by African Americans. It's named after Crispus Attucks, a black man killed in the Boston Massacre of 1770 who was the first casualty of the American Revolution.
Blyden Branch Library - 879 E. Princess Anne Road
The Blyden Branch library was the First Public Library for African Americans supported by a city in Virginia. It was not an easy task for those who worked relentlessly to open more doors for the black community. but in 1921 the library finally opened.
John T. West School - 1425 Bolton Street
The John T. West School was the first accredited African American high school in the south. It is the only remaining African American school in Norfolk and is one of the oldest remaining schools in the city.
Emanuel A.M.E. Church - 637 North Street
The Emanuel A.M.E Church congregation has a long history dating back to 1772. It was not only a place to worship for African Americans but a stop on the Underground Railroad. The church is the second oldest church building in the city of Portsmouth.
Fisher's Hill Cemetery - southern edge of I-264 off Deep Creek Boulevard
Prominent local African Americans are in their final resting place here such as I.C. Norcom, Jeffry Wilson, Ida Barbour, and others. This is one of 3 all black adjoining cemeteries. Medal of Honor Monument - at intersection of High Street and Water Street This monument honors 11 African American soldiers who received the Medal of Honor during the civil war. These brave men rushed in to take control of the nations colors from one of their dying comrades.
Truxtun Historic District
The district was the nation’s first government funded housing district built exclusively for African Americans. Construction began in 1910 on 250 homes. A school was also built on these grounds but was demolished in 1990. Today many of the descendents of the original owners live in the homes.
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