Rich experiences can be found all year long in historic Alexandria, Va., a city steeped in African-American history since its founding in 1749. Old Town Alexandria is located just outside of Washington, D.C. on the Potomac River waterfront. To walk the streets of Alexandria is to walk through America’s timeline of African-American history from colonial times to the Civil War to Civil Rights, with powerful stories of African Americans who shaped Alexandria and America.
More than 25 sites featured in Alexandria’s Courageous Journey guide include:
- Site of one of the earliest sit-ins, held in 1939at the Alexandria Library, organized by African American attorney Samuel Tucker two decades before the Civil Rights movement.
- Freedom House Museum, a National Historic Landmark owned by the Northern Virginia Urban League, a small but powerful museum located on the basement level of one of most infamous slave trading companies in the U.S., which bears a connection to the story depicted in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave.
- Alexandria Black History Museum, originally the site of the segregated library for Alexandria’s African American residents, this small museum documents the local and national history, culture and contributions of Black America through exhibits and programs.
- For Black History Month, the Alexandria Black History Museum presents the 50-photograph exhibition Through Darkness to Light: Photographs Along the Underground Railroad by photographer Jeanine Michna-Bales.
- Visitors can also book a guided tour with Manumission Tour Company or create their own path through Alexandria’s African American history with the Courageous Journey guide or the curated self-guided driving tour of 10 African American historic sites. Nearby at Mount Vernon, you can experience the groundbreaking exhibition Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
For more information about Alexandria’s African-American Heritage, visit https://www.alexandriava.gov/BlackHistory.