Ever since its formation in 1749, the city of Alexandria has been home to a vibrant black population. A walk through the streets of Alexandria is a walk through America’s timeline of African-American history from colonial times to the Civil War to Civil Rights, and their contribution to shaping Alexandria and America as we know it.
These five major historic sites in Alexandria tell more about the history and culture of the African-American community in Alexandria.
Freedom House Museum (Northern Va Urban League Inc)–1315 Duke St.
Once the headquarters for the largest and most infamous slave trading companies in the U.S., this small but powerful museum tells the stories of courageous African-Americans who survived the cruelty of the slave trade and went on to fight for equal rights. The museum features original artifacts and first-person accounts told through videos and exhibits.
Alexandria Black History Museum–902 Wythe Street
This museum was originally the site for the first segregated library for the black community. It documents the local and national history, culture, and contribution of African Americans through exhibits and programs.
African American Hall of Fame at Charles Houston Recreation Center – 901 Wythe Street
Located across from the Black History Museum, this museum features exhibits that trace the history of the City’s historic Black churches and schools in the Parker-Gray neighborhood and beyond. It tells the story of the more than 60 African-American movers and shakers who made significant contributions to the City and the Civil Rights movements such as writers, activists, professional athletes, pioneers, government officials, and among others.
Contrabands & Freedmen Cemetery Memorial – 1001 South Washington (at Church Street)
Between 1864 and 1869, this was a burial ground for around 1,800 African Americans who fled to Union-occupied Alexandria to escape slavery. It was turned into a memorial park in 2014 to honor the free Black men, women, and children interred on its grounds.
Alexandria African American Heritage Park – 500 Holland Lane (just off Duke Street)
This 7.6-acre park was established on the site of a 19th-century African-America burial ground, the Black Baptist Cemetery. It consists of bronze memorial tree sculptures by Jerome Meadows called “Truths that Rise from the Roots Remembered” which honors the contribution of the African-Americans to the growth of Alexandria.