unique, inspiring, off-the-beaten-path Virginia

African American Heritage Trail in Virginia

These historic sites chronicle the history, heritage, struggles and victories of African Americans in Virginia from the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia in the early 1600s through the times of Slavery, Civil War, Emancipation, Segregation and Civil Rights. New sites are added all the time, so check back soon, and take a look at the Suggested Tours.

Central Virginia

Mulberry Row at Monticello

Mulberry Row at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello tells the story of several generations of enslaved families who served Thomas Jefferson as skilled trades men and women upon whom Jefferson relied to build and run his 5,000 acre plantation at Monticello. Guided and self-guided tours feature the recreated Hemings Cabin, the nailery, gardens and scenic trails.

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Northern Virginia

Montpelier The Gilmore Cabin

Born enslaved at Montpelier, George and Polly Gilmore received news of their freedom from Union soldiers occupying the area at the end of the War. The Gilmores cleared land at Montpelier and built a tiny cabin from materials salvaged from an abandoned Confederate encampment. Today The Gilmore Cabin is the first preserved and interpreted freedmen's home in the United States.

Montpelier  South Yard Domestic Slave Community

The South Yard Domestic Slave Community was home to around 30 enslaved men, women and children who served James and Dolly Madison as cooks, maids, waiters, seamstresses and footmen. As an active archaeology site, the Montpelier Foundation is excavating and reconstructing the South Yard and the homes of the families who lived there.

Montpelier Train Depot In the Time of Segregation Exhibit

The Montpelier Foundation restored the The Montpelier Train Depot to its early 20th century appearance to document the Time of Segregation and the experiences of African Americans and to continue and broaden the conversation about equality and justice in America. Exhibits present the history of the railway and the station as well as segregation and the Jim Crow era.

Spotsylvania County African American Heritage Trail

The Spotsylvania African American Heritage Trail follows the scenic country roads of Spotsylvania and traces the history of African Americans in the county from the time of their arrival in the early 1700s as enslaved men and women through the Civil War and Emancipation. The trail shares African Americans' building of churches, schools and new lives as free men and women in Spotsylvania and passes by Lake Anna State Park and Lake Anna Winery.

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Shenandoah Valley

Frontier Culture Museum 1700s West African Farm

The Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton tells the story of the blending of four diverse cultures that settled Virginia - English, Irish, German and West African - to create a distinctly American frontier culture. The Old World exhibits depict rural life in the homelands of the early immigrants and feature a recreated 1700s West African Farm.

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Southside Virginia

Robert Russa Moton Museum

A National Historic Landmark and the student birthplace of Civil Rights in Education in America, Robert Russa Moton Museum preserves and interprets the history of Civil Rights in Education in Prince Edward County. This modern museum contains fascinating, multi-media exhibits documenting a powerful period of American history.

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest tells the story of several generations of enslaved families who served Thomas Jefferson at his personal retreat as skilled trades men and women upon whom Jefferson relied to build and run his home and farm.

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Tidewater

Bacon's Castle  Bacon's Rebellion

This first American rebellion against the crown in 1676 made the ruling aristocracy of Virginia wary of bonds between the English and African indentured servants who teamed up during Bacon's Rebellion. Their unease grew and ultimately became the basis for racial segregation, white supremacy and race-based slavery in Virginia.

Mariners Museum  Siah Carter Exhibit

The Mariners Museum features an exhibit and video presentation of Siah Carter, an enslaved African American man who ran away from Shirley Plantation and joined the US Navy and served on the famous ironclad vessel USS Monitor. Carter survived the sinking of the Monitor in a storm off Cape Hatteras and remained in the US Navy serving as a cook, carpenter and coal heaver.

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Traveling Exhibit

To Be Sold : Virginia and the American Slave Trade 

The traveling exhibit To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade illustrates Virginia’s role in the Second Middle Passage that occurred in the years before the Civil War in which over a half million enslaved African Americans from the upper southern tobacco states were forced to relocate to the lower southern states when cultivation shifted away from labor-intensive tobacco to wheat.

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