Black History Landmarks In Hampton Roads
Here in Hampton Roads, our historical sites tell stories of determination and strength in overcoming social injustices and leave a lasting impression for generations to come.
James A. Fields House
James A. 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. Guided tours of the museum are available, and special events are held year-round.
Newsome House Museum and Cultural Center
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 Museum
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. The Aberdeen Gardens Historic Museum has tours available by appointment, visit their website for details.
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 include:
• Booker T. Washington
• Samuel Chapman Armstrong
• Alberta Williams King
Little England Chapel
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. Admission to this National Historic Landmark is free.
J. J. Moore Visitor, Archives & Family Life Center
The J. J. Moore Visitor, Archives & Family Life Center is the only Afro-Union and Afro-Virginian repository in Virginia. The archive is open by appointment only.
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.
Opened in 1919, the Attucks Theatre 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
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.
Emanuel A.M.E. Church
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
Prominent local African Americans are in their final resting place at Fisher’s Hill Cemetary such as I.C. Norcom, Jeffry Wilson, Ida Barbour, and others. This is one of 3 all black adjoining cemeteries. The Medal of Honor Monument, at the intersection of High Street and Water Street, 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 Truxtun Historic 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.
Martin Walsh is an owner of The Vacation Channel, and filmmaker with over a decade of experience making engaging travel content. He’s on a mission to make sure your family has fun this year with a trip to Coastal Virginia. If you would like a local’s opinion, you can always send him a question via email. Now get outside and go have an adventure!